Hobbs, N.M. -- Much of the community knows that I’m a conservative. But I've also thought that much of the community holds conservative values. So why are we standing idly and silently by while our city continues such a massive government expansion in capital outlay and employees?
In May, the city commission approved raising the cap on the city’s number of employees from 500 to 550, including additional personnel for the Parks and Recreation Department, the newspaper said. Who says government doesn't create jobs? Remember, the city lifted the cap last March from 450 to 500, so that’s a 22 percent increase in a pretty short time-frame.
Commissioner Jonathan Sena recently wrote there is a “plan for a new family fun center,” similar to Lubbock's privately owned Main Event. Before we jump into building a city-owned family fun center, let’s consider something. Do we believe private enterprise has some wisdom? Why hasn't a private individual or private business created a for-profit family fun center in the last decade, despite the major growth of Hobbs? Is there something the private sector knows that the city doesn't? Maybe the reason a family fun center hasn't been privately developed is because there's not enough demand to turn a profit. Or maybe private businesses know it will be too difficult and too costly to staff.
Can we turn our attention to the multigenerational recreation center? If the ultimate facility houses a weight-room, it is in direct competition with our locally owned gyms, which pay gross receipts taxes, payroll taxes and property taxes, in addition to paying wages and creating entrepreneurial opportunities for certified personal trainers. If the multigenerational recreation center contains studio and classroom space, it is in direct competition with privately owned fitness studios and the property owners who lease space to them.
The City wants to model the facility after facilities in other communities. Those facilities have gyms, restaurants, laundromats and daycare centers. Any of those, if included in this project, will be in direct competition with private business owners in Hobbs who pay taxes. Taxes, which the City now wants to use to put those very businesses out of business, decreasing the tax base.
Hobbsans and potential Hobbsans care just as much about having more shopping and restaurant choices in Hobbs, if not more, than being able to go ice skating, which has been mentioned as a feature of the multi-generational facility. If I’m not mistaken, more restaurants and stores can lead to more sales taxes. And potential Hobbsans don’t become Hobbsans if there’s not sufficient housing. So why wouldn't we see using our surpluses for infrastructure as a good investment?
We cannot allow the City to use tax dollars collected from tax payers to compete against the very tax payers livelihoods. That is simply not acceptable.
Jeanie Coates is a Hobbs resident and conservative activist focusing on property rights, government accountability, election integrity and government transparency.