Council to feds: Take your stimulus money and shove it

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?

21 thoughts on “Council to feds: Take your stimulus money and shove it

  1. So we have 5 council members who believe that during “uncertain economic times” when people are struggling that it is a BAD idea to help the cause by GIVING SOMEONE A GOOD JOB?!?!?!?!?!?

    These people are so focused on tourism as the driver of economic development that they fail to realize that hundreds of thousands of dollars of outside money coming into the city to pay the salary of a Mitchell resident (or getting a new family to move here to take the job) is great economic development.

  2. I think, just maybe, the others on the city council did not want the additional dictation from our Feds.
    It is a double edged sword.

  3. Good for the city council! Too bad that Mike Rounds and the majority of our SD legislators don’t have that kind of backbone!

    They rejected taking tax payer dollars to create a new position which after three years they would have had to find another source of tax payer dollars to fund.

    Low cost to whom? It is time that we quit drinking the kool-aid of taxpayer dollars coming from somewhere other than our wallets!

  4. If Geri Beck could have believed all those statements about the multiplier effect on locally spent funds, Mitchell could have gained a lot. “Business people” continually tell how locally spent dollars grow the local economy at a rate of 7 times. $400,000. times 7 turns into a whopping $2,800,000. fund for Mitchell. With that kind of growth could Mitchell not afford to pay the 4th and final year?

    Every body is not crazy, and I put Geri in that group. She just could not convince the others what a good deal that would have been, if you can believe the constant comments from business people about the multiplier effect.

    That $400,000 will go somewhere else and Mitchell gets to pay part of it. Ever hear of cutting off your nose to spite your face?

    Dave Beck you need to help Geri do what is best for Mitchell. I have tried for many years.

  5. I have to laugh at the excuses the council members gave for denying the grant. The economy is uncertain and we don’t know what it will be like in four years. Give me a break! None of us has a crystal ball, yet logic should tell you that attrition will more than likely create an open position that you need not fill. No harm, no foul.

    If the economy is so uncertain, then why is the council socking away money for an events/community center that the majority of taxpayers particpating in a special election two years ago said NO!?

    Councilman Barington says he’s a big supporter of public safety, but can’t justify voting yes. I’m surprised that Councilman Houwman didn’t ask, “what would Jesus do”, before voting no.

    Councilman Carpenter then complains that departments have turned too much money back and maybe they should be cut more. Excuse me Councilman, but you and your colleagues asked the department heads to cut even more in mid-stream during the current budget year.
    Councilman Backlund just doesn’t seem to care about public safety anyway.

    I hope the community that gets the funds we could have had puts them to good use. Merry Chriatmas early from your friends at the Mitchell City Council!

  6. South Dakota gets more than $1.50 back in Federal Spending for each $1.00 collected in Federal Taxes. I guess some other state will likely get that money, that good job, and the safer community that results from it this year.

    Think about that the next time you complain about redistribution of wealth!

  7. Wow! Tell someone who has been laid off work lately about this one and I bet you’ll have a fight on your hands. Maybe one of those people would have got this job if the grant had been approved-too late, it’s already gone!

    I bet if the grant had been for an events center that it would have been excepted without much discussion. We know that that is the only real adgenda of the current city council. They are pursuing this project against the will of the people- why did we vote about it anyway?

    If the council thinks that it was too much of a risk to hire a cop and get four years work out of him for the price of one year’s wages, then building an events center and hiring people to work in it will certainly be an astronomical gamble that tax payers will pay for, for decades to come.

    During Corn Palace Week we can’t even get full attendance in the small Corn Palace for nationally known entertainers. This should be a wake up call for everybody. Nobody in this area has the money to come to an events center multiple times a year to see performers/events.

    Build it and they will come? NOT ANY TIME SOON!

    By the looks of it the city can’t afford to give cost of living raises to city employees, and is even unwilling to take a virtually free employee that could have been absored into the work force with turnover. Ironically, the city does not want to pay employees or take free help-expalin the logic in that! This didn’t have to cost the city anything.

    Good job council, way to let someone else get our FREE money that would have went to several business in town!

    If you don’t think that another community will jump at this you are sadly mistaken. It looks like Mel Olson and Jeri Beck know what is going on, too bad the rest of the council doesn’t.

    If we get grant money to hire monkey trainers, start taking applications!

  8. Are Mel Olson and Jeri Beck the only thinking City councilpersons we have? The City Council seems to have made quite a few bone-headed decisions lately. Are they thinking long term -Events Center only or keeping/creating jobs in Mitchell? Who knows what the economy will be in four years, but I agree that they have three years of grant money to figure it out. What better way to add one more person to the police department, that in my opnion appears to be already spread thin. Maybe it isn’t too late to rethink this issue.
    Speaking of issues with the City-When are they going to do something about the eye-sore on 5th and Main. It is embarrassing to want tourists on main street and to have another Corn Palace festival come and go and still nothing is being done with that corner. (at least clean it up and fix the fence)

  9. OK, disgusting wasn’t the right word. But it is unfortunate that it’s on Main Street. What can be done about that?

  10. We have two many City employees already. Just drive across town once or twice and your odds of seeing a policeman is over 50% and they are always driving a car that get about 15 miles per gal. In any other City you see police about 1/5 as often. Do we that bad in Mitchell? With electric cars availabnle now do we need to waste gas?

  11. Are you really going to complain that you have policemen in your city that are out doing their job. You would probably complain if you never saw them. Personally, I would love to see the police every time I drive around in my town. They are there to keep you safe. If you ever need them I hope you appreciate it if they are able to get to you quickly. If they are busy and can’t come right away, don’t complain. You get what you ask for.

    As far as your city council saying no to a grant like that, I think you need new councilmen. Sounds to me like some of them have their own agendas in mind, and are not open to improving your city. To give away that kind of a gift is ludicrous. Do they not think that in the future they will need more policemen, or is your city shrinking? I think they need to re-think their positions on this one. To Mr Olson and Ms Beck, congratulations on keeping you constituents at the forefront of you mind. You need more people like you involved in government.

    Good luck to Mitchell. Sounds to me like you are going to need it.

  12. When you get old enough to pay federal taxes you will understand where grant money comes from and when you buy property you will understand what funds the police.

  13. When you get old enough to pay federal taxes you will understand where grant money comes from and when you buy property you will understand what funds the police.

  14. Good job- you are an idiot! Complaining about seeing police doing their job? What the….? Don’t you think that tourists that come to Mitchell want to see police in our city? Don’t you think there is any crime in Mitchell? Just read the paper or listen to a police scanner and figure it out. This issue is about helping our community and the message was apparently lost on you. Maybe you should run for city council, from your comments it appears that you are qualified for the job. Like the stimulus money or not, it will be spent with or without us, so why not use it? That is the reality of it.

  15. Here’s the lowdown on the Fifth and Main “eyesore” — otherwise known as the vacant former Statuary property.

    The city acquired the property a few years ago. City Public Works Director Tim McGannon said he had to wait to convert the property to a parking lot until he could get the utilities under it and the adjoining alley updated — I believe there was decades-old clay pipe under there.

    The problem was that there is not enough room in the alleys just off Main Street to maneuver heavy equipment. So this summer, the city hired a company to come in and install “cure-in-place” pipe. The process works, at least as I recall, by going down in a manhole and forcing a resin-covered stick through the pipes. The resin is then heated, and it expands out to the walls of the old pipe to form a new pipe inside the old.

    That project is now done, to my knowledge. I think some of the alleys were resurfaced, too. I missed most of the budget talks this year due to the birth of my second child, but I seem to recall money being put into the 2010 budget to convert the Fifth and Main property to a parking lot. So it should get done by next summer, I think.

  16. After reading this blog and seeing that the public can see the mistake that you made as clear as black and white. Perhaps to revisit the issue at the next council meeting is needed. Is it to late to let this stimulus money go? One more cop in this town make me feel safer as a taxpayer.

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