Monday, February 11, 2008

Metro Budget Crunch Has Some Council Members Acting Like It's Someone Else's Problem

Metro voters are getting exactly what they deserve for electing Charlie Tygard to an at-Large seat. In this morning's Tennessean Mr. Tygard is passing the buck for the city's current budget crunch to former Mayor Bill Purcell, whom Tygard claims built "the most expensive parking ever" under the Court House Square. Maybe CM Tygard would have had people parking on the Square grass and on the distant East Bank instead. What Mr. Tygard did not say is that he originally fought the renovation of the Court House because he wanted the money for a new Bellevue library back in 06-07.

And there is one other aspect of 06-07 to keep in mind: the Metro Council gave itself $1.95 million in surplus property taxes to spend wisely on local infrastructure (at least that was the purpose originally attached to the money). But what did they do? Changed the name of the sum and squandered most of what they earmarked on non-profit patrons whom they claimed provided services to the city. Of course, it didn't hurt that those patrons advanced the Council Members' influence in the community and perhaps helped them get re-elected.

So, CM Tygard had his chance during part of the Purcell Administration to use his earmarks either to help pay down the debt or to contribute to our vital infrastructure, and he wasted it, as did many of his fellow members. And Council approved by-and-large the budgets sent to them. They have no room to criticize anyone else, especially for public parking that is light years ahead of the old poor parking system. If only they had used their own earmarks as wisely.

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