Money is tight these days.
Despite the fact that more than four years have passed since the worst days of the economic crisis, time has hardly healed the wounds. No matter who you talk to, they'll tell you the same thing. It's harder than ever to keep your fiscal head above the water.
But what has really got me irked is the idea our elected leaders -- who we pay to keep things running smoothly -- seem to have made the situation worse, especially for some of our local sportsmen's organizations.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a monthly meeting at one of York County's many rod-and-gun clubs. If you've ever been to one of these meetings, you know everything boils down to money. The groups have lots of great plans, but their bank accounts aren't up to the task.
Most sportsmen's groups rely on small games of chance for a good chunk of their fundraising. They use raffles, pull tabs, "punchboards" and other simple games to put money in their coffers. For many years, it worked fine. They weren't getting rich, but they also weren't biting their fingernails wondering if they'd go broke.
But late last year, the folks in Harrisburg decided to change the rules, and everything changed. Now, the cries from many local groups are loud and desperate.
If you've been following the news, you likely heard about Act 2 of 2012. It started out with good intentions. A group of legislators answered cries from clubs and worked to make the games more attractive to bettors through higher payouts. But then the political fighting began. They called it compromise.
By the time the legislation made its way to Gov. Corbett's desk, it was tweaked and twisted into a set of fresh rules many of the state's small sportsmen's clubs are now having trouble keeping up with.
Sure, the maximum individual payout increased from $500 to $1,000 and clubs can now sell up to $25,000 worth of tickets each week, but there's also reams of paperwork to deal with. Thanks to the new rules, clubs must keep the name and address of every person who wins more than $100. And they must also withhold taxes and send it straight to the state.
But the biggest hurdle for the state's smallest clubs is a twist in the rules that says the groups can only keep 30 percent of their sales. The remaining 70 percent must go straight to programs that benefit the community. Previously, groups were allowed to keep enough to cover operational expenses.
The problem is the new laws don't have a concern for the size of an organization. The laws were designed for the large clubs that serve alcohol and are more like a bar than a club. They can keep up with the paperwork and the new income limits are in their favor.
But for a sportsmen's group with just a hundred members or so, the trouble is not so much the filing headache, it's the fact that 30 percent of just a few hundred dollars in sales doesn't go too far when it's time to pay the utility bills.
I've talked to members from several groups and they said the effects will be felt. They'll be able to help grow fewer trout in their nurseries. They'll host fewer educational days for youngsters. And, most damaging, some clubs may have to close their doors if a solution is not found. It would be a tremendous setback for our local sporting community.
The good news is there is legislation in the works that could provide a solution. But as we know, nothing in politics is an easy fight these days, especially if it deals with money. We need to make sure our elected officials know the stakes.
As always, we need to be involved. The money will only stretch so far.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@york dispatch.com.