The city of Midland operates its own canoe livery (pictured above). Why should
cities be in the business of summer fun when there are so many other pressing needs, such
as road repair and public safety?
Midland is home to the "Tridge"a structure that links three pieces of
land separated by the confluence of the Chippewa and Titta-bawassee rivers. The city
provides a beautiful setting for many summer activities such as tennis, biking, swimming,
and canoeing. Unfortunately, when it comes to paying for Midlands stable (often
called "livery") of canoes, city leaders are paddling upstream.
Midland County residents subsidize the operation of the citys canoe livery.
According to the citys budget, from 1991-1995 expenditures exceeded revenues
by more than $2,400. The livery operated at a loss in 1991, 1992, and 1995. In 1993 and
1994 the livery brought in revenue of $64 and $202 respectively. Data provided by the city
for Fiscal Year (FY) 1997-98 show a loss of $1,400. Anticipated losses for FY 1998-99 are
estimated by the city to be $1,250.
The canoe liverys annual budgets, obtained by Michigan Privatization Report, suggest
that city officials fully recognize that expected revenue will not cover the expenses of
Fortunately, there is another option for the residents of Midland: Sell the canoes to a
private livery and get out of the recreation business.
A private vendor would have the incentive to provide canoe rides at a competitive
price. Why? The market exacts a toll from the inefficient. If a private livery failed to
please consumers it would go out of business, as it should.
Besidesis it the business of local government to pay for recreational activities
that could be run more efficiently and effectively by the private sector? A simple
examination of the city governments priorities suggests the answer is,
"no." With so many other competing demands on the citys budget,
wouldnt it be best to eliminate the livery and shift the savings to more pressing