The Davidson Town Board will vote Tuesday to approve $223k in "needs".
Only $55k of the $223k that will be approved Tuesday are in fact needs by most commonly accepted definitions of the word. $40k goes to immediate public safety needs for police and fire equipment. An additional $15k is for needed computer equipment. Public safety is the primary responsibility of government and the computers are required to actually run the government. Those are needs.
Also considered "needs":
1. $10,000 for greenway easement acquisition when during the last public discussion on the subject there was no project underway 'need'ing anything. However, based on those discussions this one will likely turn into an annual payment.
2. $1,200 for the Red Line trail - not the Red Line train - the Red Line trail - a planned bikeway roughly paralleling the proposed Red Line train. At the last presentation on this project, the usage of the trail was based on the existence of the train which is at best many, many years off. Tomorrow it will qualify as a "need".
3. $5,500 for a Town newsletter. While potentially useful, the town has numerous other mechanisms to distribute this information including email, twitter, facebook, posting it on the website and using the Town phone broadcast to drive traffic.
4. $8,000 for a grant match for a "pedestrian plan". How about spending that money on fixing more sidewalks? Considering there were dozens of projects around town that need that money when Public Works made its presentation that would seem like a better "pedestrian plan".
5. $50,000 for updated Parks and Rec and Community Wellness Master Plan - The reason this is designated a "need" is that when applying for grants a more current plan is needed in addition to additional matching funds. The Town is spending money as a "need" so that it can apply for more projects to spend more money.
6. $4,380 for audio visual aids for Town Hall. iPads are simply not enough.
7. $33,000 for bathrooms at Ada Jenkins gym to allow for more Town use. See number #4 about the sidewalks.
8. $40,000 for a public safety staffing study. The travesty here is that it was relegated to the unfunded needs list when the Town was finalizing it's budget a few short months ago. Back in June the Town funded a $75,000 re-write of its planning ordinance. That made the cut but ensuring public safety runs efficiently did not.
It's about priorities, and "wants" rather than "needs" would be a better description for most of tomorrow's list.
Update: After months of discussion when it came time to voter on the first of multiple spending plans, there was no discussion. No questions asked. The $223k in "needs" passed unanimously.