Well, what did you expect. If a politician or political body has money - they spend it.
Last night, Toledo City Council voted to spend $39,900 on flowers for the 'gateways.' Interestingly enough, Point Place, which is the major north-south gateway into the city from Michigan and my home neighborhood, doesn't have any special type of entranceway or beautification project. However, the Anthony Wayne Trail does and so do Cherry and Summit Streets downtown. So even if beautifying the city's entranceways is a good idea, the major entrances to the city seem to be neglected. If this money is truely to provide a pleasant view for people entering the city, perhaps the locations of planting should be revised.
Then there is the Labor-Management-Citizens Center which got another $42,886 for a total of $113,314. Now, the LMC is a really great organization and, when I was the Clerk of Court, I took advantage of their services. Both my unions and I were very pleased with the assistance they provided. But the idea that the city just budgets money for an organization has got to end. L-M-C provides a service, but it's a service that other entities can also provide. The city needs to issue an RFP and then enter into a contract with a firm or organization to provide such services. By just listing L-M-C as an item in the budget, the city avoids the need to bid out such services and get the best price for the citizens who are footing the bill.
Finally, there is Sister Cities. I appreciate the work that Sister Cities does. They help to foster good relationships and better understanding, especially in a growing global economy. But they are not a necessity when it comes to the duties and responsibilities of a city. I believe they deserve individual support from citizens and businesses, but not our tax dollars - especially if it means that we need to pay an additional tax (garbage tax) so they can have funding. They got $50,000, but council was told there was a small carryover from 2006 and that was the source of the funds.
Total for the night? $132,786!
It's evident that none of our administrators and elected officials are thinking ahead. They had a small carryover from 2006 of $334,000 and they're going to collect one more month of garbage tax than they originally estimated which is going to generate $364,500. So, obviously, they have money to spend - right? WRONG!
According to earlier estimates, city staff is projecting the 2008 budget deficit to be around $18 million. Wouldn't it make more sense to NOT spend money and set aside any "additional" funds to help cover the deficit for next year?
Ah - but that's not how you buy votes....