Public funding decisions are not so simple

Published 12:25 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

By Staff
Often when city and county governments make the decision to fund a project, questions arise about why one facet of the community's needs would be funded over another. For example, when readers see in this issue that the Escambia County Commission is spending $400,000 to purchase a building, some may ask why that money wasn't put toward another much needed project.
The truth is that often government funding resources have very narrowly defined uses, and it's not a matter of choosing a new building over a new road or a new piece of equipment. The funds our county and city governments operate on do not exist in one large sum in a bank accout that they can decide to allocate at will.
The best way to begin to understand how officials spend public money is to speak with those officials or to attend city council meetings and county commission meetings where those decisions are made. Applying for grants and making decisions about allocating funds are complicated processes, but the public has a right to understand them. Likewise, the public has an obligation to understand how projects are funded in order to voice their opinions about decisions that are made in council and commission chambers.