Tag Archives: john combs wasilla

Sarah Palin’s money-pit of a sports complex

According to the Anchorage Daily News, former Palmer Mayor John Combs resigned Wednesday as Wasilla’s recreation and cultural services director because someone ratted on him about having a few beers while on duty at a boxing event at the city’s sports center. Also, someone, perhaps the same person, reported him as a possible drunk driver after he left the event.

He wasn’t. He only registered .06. The limit is .08.

Apparently, Combs has an enemy or two. In March, members of the Wasilla City Council proposed firing Combs ostensibly to save his $90,000 a year salary. The amendment didn’t pass.

Wasilla grudges can be fascinating. But the most interesting part of the story was about the financial shape of the Wasilla Sports Complex. Alaskans might recall that in 2002, Wasilla passed a .5 percent sales tax to pay for what was then billed as a $14.7 million multi-use center. The measure passed by only 20 votes, 306 to 286.

One of the major proponents of the center was then Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin. She and a group of boosters sold it the public by assuring them that it would be profitable.

Getting the tax passed was one of her biggest achievements while mayor. The vote’s slim margin, Palin said, was proof of the city’s fiscal conservatism.

How’s it doing now? In 2010, the city subsidized the center at a cost of $800,000. Things haven’t improved much since, according to the ADN:

The Menard Center has struggled financially in recent years since it opened in 2005. The center’s total operating revenues peaked at $728,000 in 2007 and dropped to the lowest level, $544,000, in 2011 according to a July report from Wasilla finance director Troy Tankersley. Total operating expenses, however, swelled from $789,000 in 2005 to $1,169,000, a 49 percent increase.

At least now the city will save $90,000.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com