As is almost always the case when a political appellation gets co-opted, the term “fiscal conservative” has come to mean something other than what it should—a faithful steward of the taxpayers’ money.
Under the reigning assumption that all government spending is inherently bad, it now defines a politician who can only say the word “no!”
Though it’s getting harder and harder to tell them apart, there should be a marked difference between a curmudgeon and a conservative. A conservative stays out of peoples’ private lives and understands that circumstances exist where spending money now can save you so much more in the long run. A curmudgeon doesn’t.
Look, I understand the pitfalls of dealing with unions and that going to arbitration is an all-or-nothing thing, but agreeing to for the for the next four years, at a time when most of us have taken pay cuts, is utterly obscene.
And it’s the fact that Mayor Kevin Burns simply cannot say no to city employees that makes him anything but a fiscal conservative. While I would urge them to make do with what they have, I’m sure the police will also be granted their requests for a replacement vehicle and new technology.
All I can say is, I hope the city does a lot better when it comes time to negotiate with electric utility employees.
But while I will continue to issue the clarion call for holding the line on municipal labor and equipment costs, just as I did in the column on my , there are times when spending money is exactly the right thing to do.
I’ll say it again, if the city had the you-know-whats to “persuade” Joe Stanton to head up that development group, I’d personally contribute a portion my hard earned money to his salary right now.
Along the same lines, when it comes to the generally earnest endeavors of the not-so-widely-known Geneva Mental Health Board, I say we have another case of money well spent. Here's why: The $139,000 in 2011 Geneva taxpayer dollars spent by the Mental Health Board may well have saved us 10 times that amount. It’s too bad the effect of these kind of proactive and preventative measures can’t be measured.
For example, we’ll never know how many ships that well-placed lighthouse might have saved.
Charged with providing grants to organizations that serve Genevans, the worthwhile causes that received GMHB funds included, CASA Kane County, Ecker Center, Fox Valley Hospice, Haley’s Playground, Lazarus House, Renz Addiction, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Suicide Prevention Services and TriCity Family Services.
I get a warm and fuzzy feeling just thinking about it!
Were it not for the efforts of those fine folks, who tend to toil behind the scenes, especially during these difficult economic times, the least of our brothers and sisters would end up in court, in jail, in emergency rooms, or under the auspices of an already overburdened government program like DCFS.
If you haven’t already taken a tour of St. Charles’ Lazarus House homeless shelter (I have), I heartily encourage you to do so. It is absolutely amazing just how far those folks can stretch a dollar. If the people of Illinois had the smarts to ensconce former Lazarus House Director Darlene Marcusson in that Springfield mansion, our $8 billion budget deficit would be wiped out in two short years.
So as I watched former alderman Jim Radecki speak in favor of reexamining the existence of the Geneva Mental Health Board during last week’s Channel 10 City Council meeting broadcast—and also saw some of the aldermen agree with him—I started shouting at the TV just like I do when the Cubs start screwing up.
I understand there may be issues with the board hanging on to some funds for a special project to be named later, but then let’s deal directly with that and try not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
If there’s one part of the city budget I’d like to see doubled (or more), this is the it, because it heads off the kind of expenses that routinely kill the taxpayer. Catching someone after they fall through the social safety net is always a losing proposition.
Calling yourself a fiscal conservative not only means knowing when to stop spending our money, but understanding when disbursing that sacred tax revenue actually has greater long-term benefits.