Friday, August 13, 2004

More Questionable Spending

We here at GR Pundit sometimes wonder whether our city government ever thinks about what it does.

The Grand Rapids City Commission yesterday approved the expenditure of $67,700 of taxpayer dollars on an adopt-a-stream program which is operated by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC). The article states that with this money over the last year, over 200 bags of trash were removed by volunteers from local streams.

But let's take a closer look at this program and the WMEAC. First, WMEAC is not just a group of concerned environmentalists. They are the garden-variety environmental political activists who run such programs as the "Cup of Justice Group," which aims to "...communicate with the Grand Rapids community about the environmental and social justice issues in our cup of coffee." What types of social justice issues? Things like "...consumer awareness and demand for fair trade, shade-grown, [and] bird-friendly organic coffee." Maybe we can sing kumbaya after.

Second, this adopt-a-stream program is supported by taxpayer dollars. We here at GR Pundit agree with the goal, that is, cleaning up local streams and protecting waterways. Who doesn't support that? But spending $67,700 to pick up 200 bags of trash? Well, we suspect there was some number inflation at the City Commission meeting on the part of the WMEAC presenters. Their own annual report says that 120 bags of trash were picked up last year. That's a great achievement - we don't disagree. But that's at a cost of $564 per bag of trash collected. A cost to us taxpayers.

Isn't there a more efficient way to do this? Particularly when our city taxes keep getting jacked up while we're told that if we don't increase taxes, police and fire will be cut. How about cutting wasteful spending first?

Maybe just hire a rubbish company to regularly collect garbage? I seriously doubt that anyone would charge $564 per bag of trash.

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