When will the government take responsibility for its actions? Not today.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Tri-State Fair parade in downtown Amarillo has been cancelled for this year. While citing some safety concerns, the Tri-State Fair said in a statement that the primary reason for cancelling was because the City of Amarillo has decided that it will not be covering any security costs for the parade this year.
"In the past, the City of Amarillo has been kind enough to absorb many of the costs associated with the parade," Tri-State Fair officials said in a letter. "Several of those costs include barricades and officers for safety and security (costing around $7,000 for a parade this size). Unfortunately, the City will not be able to absorb those costs any longer, and the Tri-State Fair does not have access to that kind of money in the budget."
Personally, I am not a huge fan of the government blowing money. But, it appears from a statement made today by city manager Jared Miller that while the City is pulling funding for this parade, it plans to continue funding some costs for other parades.
"We love parades but it's not really something that is a sustainable cost for us," city manager Jared Miller said. "There are going to be parades that we are going to continue to support - like the parade of lights and the Veterans' Day parade...We can't be in the position of picking and choosing which parades get supported and which ones do not."
Here's a question for Mr. Miller: If the City is funding these two parades, but not the one that has been in Amarillo for almost a century, how the heck is that not choosing which parades get supported?
It's just ridiculous. It seems that every chance the City of Amarillo gets, it loves to contradict itself. They don't want to pick which parades get supported, but they are funding some over others? How does that work?
I'm also curious about the funding aspect of the parade. Miller said that the City could not absorb the between $7,000 and $15,000 in costs related to operating the parade. But, at the same time, the City of Amarillo is listed as a sponsor of the "Route 66 Celebration."
So, the City isn't willing to support a parade thrown by a non-profit entity, but is willing to support a festival that is partially supported by a for-profit media company based out of New York? Talk about keeping it local.
For those who don't know, there is actually a part of the City operating budget that is not well-defined. This column is called "Special Revenues" and consists of a cash pool of $22.8 million. In 2016, I was told by a senior City official that this fund works similar to a "petty cash fund" for the City. So, if this is truly the case, then why can't this budget be tapped to cover the parade expenses? After all, this fund received an increase of about $700,000 over the past fiscal year and the City has no problem sponsoring downtown festivals. It seems like if that $22.8 million is really just sitting there, then it could be put to better use by enhancing the lives of the citizens that contributed to it through property and sales tax.
This is not the mindset of government accounting, however. Instead, the government operates to fund its special events and places the blame when the money runs out.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief