OK, so the Mitchell City Council wasn’t quite as emphatic in its rejection of federal stimulus money last night as the title of this post sounds. But the council’s rejection of nearly $400,000 from the feds was nonetheless surprising.
You can read more about it by clicking here, but here’s basically what happened: The Public Safety Department was awarded a nearly $400,000 stimulus grant to pay the cost of hiring a community resource officer for three years. The city would have been on the hook for a fourth year, and then would have had to decide whether to keep or cut the position in future years. The officer would have worked on stuff like the police citizens’ academy, neighborhood watches, the new Nixle public notification system, etc. — stuff that’s already being done, but is currently taking police officers away from other police work.
The majority of the council felt it would be bad policy to add an employee to the payroll during uncertain economic times, even if that employee’s first three years are paid by the federal government. The minority — Mel Olson and Geri Beck — thought the grant was a good chance to work on some positive projects at a low cost.
What do you think? Was rejecting the grant the right move?