Governments should remember who pays the bills

2012-06-19T07:00:00Z 2013-02-26T14:24:17Z Governments should remember who pays the bills
June 19, 2012 7:00 am

Governments large and small spend a lot of money on a variety of items, as illustrated in Sunday’s story about miscellaneous government expenses.

Many of these expenses are necessary, although some can seem odd during an initial look.

For example, the school district in Farmer City spends money each year for bounce houses and face painting as part of an event that welcomes new kindergarten students to the school. Parents appreciate the event, which makes the new students a little more comfortable in their surroundings. Is it a necessity? Of course not. But if it helps kindergartners settle into school a little faster, it’s probably worth the investment.

There are times, however, when good intentions can end up costing local governments — and taxpayers — a lot of money. The Decatur Township Board decided a few years ago to purchase a building for its offices. The building, located at 1620 S. Taylorville Road, has become something of a money pit. Bids for the renovation work were more than anticipated and exceeded $1 million.

The township board recently spent another $50,000 on the building to get it ready for a tenant who will share the space. It’s questionable whether the township ever needed offices of its own, but there’s little doubt the spending has been out of control.

Some expenses are troubling, but unavoidable. The McLean County Jail, for example, spends more than $400,000 a year on health care for inmates. That’s a lot of money, but state law says the jail is responsible for the health of inmates while they are incarcerated. There’s little doubt that most inmates probably receive better health care in jail than when they are free.

Most local governments do a pretty good job of keeping expenses under control, especially when compared to federal and state governments. However, local governments should do more. The burden on taxpayers is huge and the future will demand more government cooperation and ultimately, consolidation. Few government officials are willing to discuss what appears to be inevitable. Taxpayers want efficient government service at the lowest possible price. One way to accomplish that goal is to make government more efficient through consolidation.

Taxpayers play a role in local government spending, too. First, they should encourage governments to focus on what government does well  and stay away from tasks that are better performed by the private sector. Second, taxpayers need to keep a watchful eye on government expenses. Governments should be open and transparent about how they spend public dollars and taxpayers should not be shy about asking.

After all, it’s the taxpayers who are paying the bills.


Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. Jose
    Report Abuse
    Jose - June 28, 2012 9:50 pm
    Well, it USED to be stated that way, per some very odd wording: "...of the people, by the people, for the people..." but if you were to ask "the people", you'd have results like "People are too __________ (busy, apathetic, uninformed) or not smart enough."

    That's why we are governed by predatory capitalists and political fascists, not a representative democracy. Even a cursory look at the way our "elections" have been run will show you that votes don't matter; otherwise, why do candidates take $$$ and have "war chests"? The democracy shibboleth is a cover bought into by those who can't see what's in front of them.

    Pretty much everyone I've talked to about American governance wants some functions performed by professionals employed by the government or skilled elected representatives. How we get those people and what functions we want them to do is, or should be, a completely different and non-ideological discussion.
  2. exrepub
    Report Abuse
    exrepub - June 26, 2012 1:38 am
    And you could put it in the stock market where it disappeared under Bush policies. . I just love how people holler because we have all these bills to pay with no money but yet when their part is touched or mentioned for cutting they say no no no. I am sure they do not realize that they want to blame some fictitious group that is getting all the money but many are the culprits themselves. For instance the ones receiving the pension for doing nothing now, they want large increases but don't take the time to think who will fund those increases. Even if they were fully funded the interest rate on which they were based tanked so the money isn't there. But they won't mind as long as theirs isn't cut and we go bankrupt for them. It just goes to show how narrow minded and self centered everyone is. Blame someone else, cut theirs but leave mine alone. It is easier though when you have some fictitious group to hate and blame.
  3. exrepub
    Report Abuse
    exrepub - June 26, 2012 1:29 am
    Very amusing! Checked any facts lately? I think along with not stealing some should learn to stick to facts and honesty. In case you don't know honesty is telling the truth and not rearranging things to make it sound good for votes. If you think your statementis true I wonder if you have been on a trip to the moon with Gingrich or something. Also check out the agenda for Issa, Cantor, and Paul Ryan probably after you have to check out who they even are. But then again there is that truth thing in the way.
  4. exrepub
    Report Abuse
    exrepub - June 26, 2012 1:24 am
    I think people need to remember who the goverment is. Some think it is some big machine that determines what we all do. It is actually a collection of us. We vote. We are the taxpayers. We are the ones getting elected. We are the ones making the laws. Why is that concept so hard for some to understand. Is it because everyone wants to blame someone and not accept any responsibility. I know for sure that is the republican stance. I don't know about the other parties but they seem to do that too.
  5. Tivits
    Report Abuse
    Tivits - June 25, 2012 8:49 pm
    Unfortunately, I think you are speaking way over their heads. I can hear them now, "Uh, who is Harry Reid?" So I'll let them know. He is the leader in the Senate that is tearing this country apart with promises that cannot be kept. Stop coveting your neighbors and be thankful for what you have and what you are able (for now) to attain (without stealing it from someone else).
  6. Patriot
    Report Abuse
    Patriot - June 21, 2012 2:47 pm
    I find it interesting that the Pantagraph mentions Farmer City and Decator for over spending when they totally ignore Bloomington and Normal. Why is this, do you think?
  7. Responsibleone
    Report Abuse
    Responsibleone - June 21, 2012 8:28 am
    Good article.....But, you so often forget this very point yourselves, Pantagraph Editorial Board.....How many tax and fee increases have you supported?????????????????
  8. Lame_Stream_Media_5
    Report Abuse
    Lame_Stream_Media_5 - June 21, 2012 7:37 am
    Anjali, when you pay into the system for 30 years, then you might have a dog in this race! I get sick of you "gimmie, gimmie, gimmie it for free" generation kids expecting everthing for free because you are too lazy to get off your butt and get a job! What a concept Actually working for something instead of going to the mailbox expecting it just appear there! I would be happy if the government refunded the $300k I have paid into the system so I can manage it my self!
  9. Anjali
    Report Abuse
    Anjali - June 21, 2012 3:23 am
    Government even help baby boomers for hearing aids and may be other health facilities too but what about others.
  10. annieoakley
    Report Abuse
    annieoakley - June 20, 2012 8:07 am
    It doesn't say who wrote this letter, however, you forget yourself! Once the government steals money from the tax payers, it isn't the tax payers money any more and the government knows what is best for us? Wasn't it Harry Reid who said this?
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Pantagraph Blogs