to the editor
To the editor:
I would like to respond to the letter to the editor from Janice Davis published April 21 and perhaps clarify some misunderstandings that she and others may have regarding the Marion County Lake bait shop.
In addition to having helped research and prepare the proposal to re-open the bait shop, I also participated in county commission meetings where it was discussed.
I also have read and re-read articles published in the Hillsboro Free Press and Marion County Record that Ms. Davis refers to.
At no time was the existence of the Last Chance Bait Shop or any other business ignored or denied.
Nobody denied that Ms. Davis obviously works hard to maintain a business that primarily serves Marion Reservoir.
Nobody is trying to take anything away or compete with this business. Using Last Chance Bait Shop as a supplier was discussed and considered.
Ms. Davis’ letter raises the question of how a county can use taxpayer’s money for a profit business.
It will provide a much needed service to all tax-paying county residents that use and live on Marion County Lake, and hundreds of other tax-paying non-residents who own cabins and trailers.
At least five other counties or municipalities in Kansas own and run similar stores.
At least 75% (estimated) of the merchandise in the county lake’s store will come from local merchants and efforts will be made to include as many local businesses as possible. This was discussed with several businesses that whole-heartedly supported reopening the store.
Ms. Davis’ conclusion that the taxpayers are paying for the operating costs of a profit business as well as its employees’ salaries is not accurate. The lake manager’s duties already require him to spend the majority of his time in the office.
Management of the bait shop will be an additional responsibility.
Commissioners approved start-up costs for the business. Conservative projections show the business should make a small profit or at least break even. Hence, operating costs and employee salaries will be self-funding.
Previous operations did not generate profits sizable enough to entice anyone to lease and privately run the bait shop. Those profits are not enough to seriously impact local businesses. In addition, the bait shop business is very seasonal.
Profits will be used to help fund improvements and events at Marion County Lake. Who benefits? All tax-paying residents of Marion County and visitors that come to Marion County Lake every year!
Marion County Lake is a valuable asset and a tourist attraction that will continue to draw people if it is maintained and the right steps are taken.
I applaud Marion County Commissioners for re-opening the bait shop.