It is popular these days to lament the value of local government as wasteful and unnecessary. Some branches of local government are purely regulatory, meting out the do’s and don’ts of everyday life.

But there is one branch of local government that can increase property values, attract businesses to the community, reduce crime, extend life expectancy, improve quality of life, reduce childhood obesity, strengthen neighborhoods and sense of community, attract new residents to those neighborhoods, and does all this for pennies on the tax dollar.

What department might that be? It’s the local parks and recreation department, of course.

In these times of economic turmoil, it is tempting to look to these services as frills and areas for reducing the local tax burden. As the saying goes, however, that would be “penny wise and pound foolish,” as the benefits of those essential local services far outweigh the investments made in them. 

The public needs to support their local departments. If they invest in the livability of their community, they will reap the benefits for years to come.

Douglas S. Beck, North Monmouth
Executive Director, Maine Recreation and Parks Association

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