No unneeded spending

Published 6:44 pm Friday, May 6, 2011

Dear Editor,

We are facing a time when the state of Alabama is at the brink of financial crisis, when our teachers’ salaries are frozen, and when most taxpayers are cutting back on their own family budgets and still barely breaking even.

Yet somehow the Clanton Police Department has such a vast budget surplus that they have actually considered purchasing Segways, those nifty two-wheeled personal transport vehicles typically used by the wealthy and affluent. These luxurious little “toys” currently sell at a cost of $6,000-$7,000 each!

We as Americans are suffering in this economic disaster precisely because of this type of wasteful spending and frivolous ideology. Local municipalities all across the country are laying off firefighters and police because of budget shortfalls. Will ours be next?

A recent article by Mr. Stephen Dawkins concluded that using Segways would save gas while being able to move at speeds of 12-15 miles per hour. Couldn’t a bicycle accomplish the same feat at a far lower cost? Numerous municipal and county police forces in Alabama currently use bicycles, saving money and improving the physical fitness of the officers who ride them.

A fully equipped police bicycle costs about $1,500, far less than the price of a Segway, and is much easier to repair and maintain. The cities of Prattville and Montgomery have already incorporated the use of bicycles in their law enforcement programs, and the results have been very positive.

Taxpayers are paying close attention to how their governments—state, local and federal—are spending their hard-earned dollars. This debate should not be limited to Washington; it is a problem that needs to be addressed at all levels of government, including ours right here in Chilton County.

My message to local law enforcement: If you have extra discretionary funds in your budget, then donate that money to schools that desperately need it. Do something that will make a difference instead of wasting taxpayer money on silly toys made for rich people.

Paul Hendrix, Clanton