It is deeply concerning that City Councilor Best has misunderstood the entire purpose of city government. Quality of life departments like the library, museum and parks are not businesses and never have been. They cannot operate “at a loss” because they aren’t supposed to turn a profit. Like all city departments, they exist to provide a service to the community. As long as they do so, then the money it costs to run these departments isn’t wasted but being distributed for the public good as intended.
Her proposal to charge fees for library services is cruel and would prevent many of the city’s residents (who already pay for these amenities with their taxes) from accessing vital services. Many people who do not have internet at home use the library’s computers to look for information and apply for jobs.
Many others enjoy borrowing materials to educate or entertain themselves and their families. Is Councilor Best really suggesting that only well-off parents deserve to read books to their children?
Her claims about the museum are equally ridiculous. Perhaps it does have “only” 416 members, but those are people who choose to donate money to the museum, not the only people the museum serves. A better number to consider is the more than 30,000 visitors it welcomed last year, including hundreds of students from Roswell’s schools. Having an excellent museum available in a community of our size is remarkable. The people of Roswell built it during the Great Depression and have supported it for over 80 years. It draws out-of-town tourists who spend money in the city, provides art and science activities for our kids and social events for adults, and is something unique that the whole community can truly be proud of.
Could the museum and the zoo charge an admission fee to tourists in order to offset some of their costs during a difficult financial time for the city? It’s worth discussing the possibility. But closing the museum is an incredibly short-sighted and permanent way to address the city’s temporary finance problem. Quality of life venues are not optional and they’re not frivolous. Even if Councilor Best doesn’t use or value these services, many others do. They exist for everyone. Trash pickup and running water aren’t enough of a draw to attract new residents to our town. The City of Roswell needs and deserves arts and recreation, too.