More cuts. More layoffs.
I don’t know how much more I can take of the bad news, and I don’t even work for the county. As the weather warms up and the county comes out of hibernation, we’re starting to feel the collective impact of county budget cuts.
They’re like those biting gnats that drive you crazy at a soccer game. Unlike the gnats, I’m afraid the cuts aren’t quite as short-lived.
Here are some examples. For the past several years, my kids have been involved in the 4-H horse program. We’ve always had our shows at Deseret Peak Complex. But with the complex layoffs, our user fee will be higher, with no amenities, making it so we can’t afford to hold the shows there anymore.
And then there’s the Deseret Peak Complex pool, usually slated to open Memorial Day weekend. It was one of those consistently used and popular features of the complex that had the potential of paying for itself. Word is, it won’t be opening this summer. I feel for the moms of young children, families and teens who count on the pool for affordable summer entertainment.
Not a day goes by without a friend or neighbor telling a similar story.
The good news is, if there ever was an opportunity for an entrepreneur to step in, it’s here. And this may well be a boon to other area pools and businesses like the bowling alley and movie theaters.
Fortunately, too, some entities have stepped up to replace cut services. Valley Mental Health took in employees from Tooele County Relief Services. The Tooele County Chamber of Commerce will run the Tooele County Fair.
In fact, some businesses, instead of complaining, are doing their part to help improve our county situation. For example, Jumping Jack Splash is hosting an open bounce event on June 2 at Dow James to benefit the food bank.
Still, it begs the question, do we know where it is exactly our commissioners are taking us on this wild ride? What is their vision of a future for Tooele County? What are we doing all the cuts for?
A balanced budget isn’t enough of a motivator to stay positive. The county needs to sell us on a bigger vision. One that will make us feel better about all this privation and sacrifice.
For the record, I wouldn’t want to be in our county commissioners’ shoes. They have a tough job. They have a tough sell. I’m sure their phones are ringing off the hooks and their emails ping every few seconds. If this were a popularity contest, well, they wouldn’t even get the consolation prize.
And I do appreciate that Shawn Milne has gone on social media to explain the commissioners’ positions. He’s asked for the public to be patient and to refrain from unproductive backbiting. Truly, if anyone has any better ideas, they should come forward in a constructive fashion.
It is advice we should all heed.
But good intentions or not, the cuts are sucking the life out of this county. And the public’s goodwill is running out, if it hasn’t yet. If the county wants to keep the public on board, they’ll need to sell us on their vision, and fast.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a memoir writing coach and a long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. Visit her website at www.TreasuredStories.net.