"For the Children"The impulse to spend money which we do not have has finally trickled down, it would seem, to the Mayor and Aldermen of the Town of White Pine. It was announced this week that the city is prepared to borrow $85,000 from the account of the White Pine Water and Sewer Department for the purpose of finishing a splash pad to be used by children playing at Lions Park. The splash pad is meant partly as a replacement for the former municipal pool, which long ago needed replacing but was a drag on revenue and expenditures even before the Depression hit.
White Pine's Water Department is by far the most efficient and cost-effective local utility in the area. Residents of the town and of the surrounding county district which may tap into the city's water system enjoy some of the lowest per capita water rates in East Tennessee. I can't recall ever having a monthly water and sewer bill over $40, even when my usage has been very high. As a result of the low cost, people generally can afford their water bills and are able to pay them, which in turn means that the Water Department is also able to meet its expenses. The result of this munumental efficincy is for the Aldermen of this town to borrow money from the Water Department to complete a project that is utterly unnecessary.
I can hear them now, the cries of "but its for the children!" Much of the waste and mismanagement in our State government is done in the name of "the children," even though few if any of the bureaucrats in Nashville can show how this money is impacting the lives of "the children," and real children here in Jefferson County are getting a less-than-suitable education-and not because their teachers and staff aren't trying, but because the State will pony up for a pre-K program of questionable effectiveness but not for books, technology, and teacher pay that we know will enhance the quality of education for kids old enough for the spending to have a discernable impact on their direction in life.
We are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930's, and our municipal government is preparing to rob Peter to pay for a splashpad?
Let me be clear in saying that I actually think the splashpad is a wonderful idea, and I don't even have a problem with dedicating municipal funds for that purpose (as a parks and recreations improvement), but before doing so, we have to be careful that we have the funds available and that the town does not have more pressing needs. As it is, the budget passed this year just barely allowed the city to meet its expenses without a tax increase. Further, the kids here do have a playground behind the pavilion at the park itself. In this present crisis, our municipal governments need to stick to the basics by necessity to save the resources we do have for what we hope are better times ahead-for the children.
Labels: Local politics