Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Your tax dollars hard at work

City Hall has ditched the stogy Web page of yesterday, for a new sleek design aimed at “opening a dialogue with the community,” according to Accounts Commissioner John Franck.

By adding an on-line assessment database –which wasn’t working Tuesday morning –a nice two-tone green hue and the promise of a system where people can pay parking tickets via the Internet, city officials feel they’ve moved one step closer to figuring out how the public thinks; what makes them tick.

And to think, all it took was $72,981, paid to Xonitek Systems for upgrades to the on-line system. Sound like a lot? Don’t worry, everything was paid for via a state grant, as both the Times Union and Saratogian have lauded.

For that kind of cash, one would think that the city would now be brandishing a world-class Web site, which virtually finds information for users. Sadly, however, the new design appears just as difficult to navigate than the old format, where at least all of the information was on one page.

More importantly, it seems as though the city government, like many municipalities across New York, see legislative grant money as the tax-free honey pot they can dip their greedy paws into at will. Sure, it’s arguable that this money is going used up by some governmental entity. But this money comes directly from taxpayers one way or another; there is no magical money tree creating this cash for frivolous spenders.

So while people are screaming over property and income taxes paid to the state, county and local government, perhaps they should start making some noise when a municipality spends more money in six months than many residents make in a year to do a job that a high school intern could have completed in half the time.

Better yet, how about some of these so-called community newspapers or radio personalities making some noise? There’s not much sense in listing the television media, because they’re probably still trying to figure out how to get onto the Internet.


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