It’s easy to see the view of many Belleville officials: Spend $150,000, get $600,000 in improvements at Bicentennial Park. What a sweet deal, right?
But some aldermen and many taxpayers see an alternative view: That $600,000 isn’t free money, It didn’t fall from the sky; it came from the taxpayers’ pockets.
The Metro-east Park District is putting in about $150,000 of the total. Tax dollars. About $300,000 of the total will be funded by the state Department of Natural Resources. Again, tax dollars.
The City Council on Monday voted 9-5 to proceed with this project, but is this the best use of the city’s money? Spending $150,000 on the park means that the city will have $150,000 less to spend on high priority needs like streets and public safety. The city in 2012 spent $845,000 in public and private money on the park - considered at the time enough to make it usable. We didn’t expect more spending so soon.
When you’re shopping, you don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Just because the city could have this deal doesn’t the aldermen should have grabbed it.