This afternoon’s General Services/Public Works Committee meeting was an enlightening lesson in how Coeur d’Alene’s government spends the public’s money. The sub-committee, with Amy Evans and Dan English in attendance (Christie Wood was absent) considered 5 items on its agenda. The first two involved vacating rights-of-way of ten foot parcel, another the approval of a tricycle type taxi service for bars, and the last was a presentation by Director Michael Priest of the Public Library. But it was the fourth item that caught my attention, and which I pass on to you, dear reader, as a lesson in how government views tax payer money. At issue was (per the agenda) the Purchase [of] One (1) Live Scan Plus Fingerprinting Machine and Related Equipment.
Renata McLeod, the city’s Municipal Services Director, made the pitch, and I will summarize it here: we had expected to hire another person, put the hiring process took longer than expected, so we didn’t spend the money. So we want to use some of it--$11 or $12,000, to purchase fingerprint equipment. The argument was that right now the police department does the fingerprinting for licenses, so people have to drive, and I quote, “all the way over there” to be fingerprinted. And they only do it a few days a week; currently Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Four miles away from City Hall, and only on two days a week! The horror! The inhumanity!
Solution: let’s take the money we didn’t spend on that new employee, and spend about $12k of it on new equipment. So we’re really saving money, right? Wrong. You’re spending taxpayer money that could have been saved, and that’s a rare opportunity that should be taken advantage of. Reallocating some it elsewhere is irresponsible, especially in the case where the city already provides the services. And it’s not just the current cost that needs to be considered, but the overall burden, in potential service, software upgrades, etc. Equipment needs maintenance, and probable replacement as newer and better equipment--targeted at bureaucratic empire builders— is introduced. All of this expands the burden on taxpayers.Now, did the council members ask how often there is a need for fingerprinting? Are people waiting in line for it? Is the police department overwhelmed with requests? Are citizens complaining about long waits or the inability to get a license for the lack of fingerprinting? These are rhetorical questions, of course no one asked. Council members English and Evans were more than happy to smile and say yes, and pass the recommendation on to the full city council for approval. One can hope that some fiscal responsibility will magically appear, but who am I kidding?
Posted on 12 Jul 2021, 20:11 - Category: News