Not so quick to spend now

November 21, 2013 

Tough economic times have taught many elected officials to say "no" a lot more freely. The Fairview Heights City Council said it not once but three times at a meeting this week, and rightly so.

The most obvious "no" went to a proposal to donate $1,000 to the Ladies Night Out Fundraiser for the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois. This is a wonderful organization. However, tax dollars are collected to provide police protection and other city services, not to make donations to charities.

The council also nixed spending $1,464 to find out if a collapsed storm sewer line is causing flooding at the Crossroads Shopping Center. Supporters argue that the flooding makes it difficult to fill vacancies in the shopping center, which means less sales tax revenue for the city. However, this is a problem for the shopping center's owner, not the city. Even if the city studied the problem, then what? An owner who isn't spending money to identify the problem probably wouldn't want to pay to fix it, either.

Ditto for the proposal to use $3,600 of taxpayer funds toward a structural assessment of the U.S. Ice Complex, which closed more than a year ago because of mine subsidence. The city would like to see the rink reopened. However, it can't even get the rink's owner to keep the grass and weeds cut. Until the owner cooperates with the city, a publicly funded study shouldn't even be under consideration.

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