Commentary

Scottsdale, AZ Rejecting Stimulus Money

Following up on Sam’s posts here and here, Scottsdale’s city council voted to reject $224,000 in stimulus dollars for a “mobile police surveillance tower to help with crowd control during special events,” among other things:

The Scottsdale City Council voted this week to turn down more than $224,000 in federal stimulus funds earmarked for public-safety improvements. Fiscally conservative members of the City Council worried that accepting the money would create overhead that would burden future city budgets. They also were concerned that the city would be accepting the money just for the sake of spending it. […]

While his colleagues debated the philosophical reasons for not accepting the money, Councilman Wayne Ecton wanted to take all of it. “The money is there and if we don’t spend it, somebody else is going to,” Ecton said.

Surveillance tower as stimulus, or spending for spending’s sake? Clearly a majority of the council saw it as the latter.

This brings to mind something said in last week’s episode of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” a show that does to local government what “The Office” does for business (i.e., satirizes it). In an candid aside, the fictional Indiana city’s Parks & Rec director (and government skeptic, to put it mildly) deadpans:

“There’s a new wind blowing in government, and I don’t like it. All of a sudden, there’s all of this federal money coming in and Paul, the city manager, is telling us to ‘build parks…start new community programs.’ It’s horrifying.”

Leonard Gilroy is Senior Managing Director of the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. The Pension Integrity Project assists policymakers and other stakeholders in designing, analyzing and implementing public sector pension reforms.