Not that long ago, Bountiful City officials pressed hard (even employing city vehicles) along with special interests to get a bond (and tax increase) passed for the creation of a recreation center that would directly compete with established private businesses. Shortly thereafter, Xcel Fitness went belly-up and specifically cited an inability to compete with the tax subsidized South Davis Recreation Center.
Recently, a business approached the Bountiful RDA about using funds to construct a gym in the new development. Behold, city officials finally worry about how government involvement in a private market might affect other businesses:
RDA board members Fred Moss and Scott Myers expressed concern about the viability of such a facility in the long-term to meet collateral needs to repay a loan, Jensen said. They were also concerned if the gym would siphon off members from existing facilities, possibly creating financial problems for them, or bring in new members, not affiliated with other facilities.
This is an overdue breath of fresh air, too bad this wasn’t thought about years ago. Nevertheless, it’s a step forward. It is also worth noting, that Scott Myers was not on the city council during the recreation center mess.
I just hope this isn’t an outlier and that the RDA is only concerned about intervention in a market if the funds go to a private entity* rather than government. In the meantime, here’s hoping for more of this questioning.
*Disclaimer: I strongly disagree with RDAs. They are typically are abused (see the Kilo case) and just another form of corporate welfare funded by taxpayers. Further, the tax increment financing used in RDAs smacks of commercial real estate speculation to me…with taxpayers assuming the risk (kind of like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).