‘Poor’ cities want new city halls

Any day now we’re going to see government employees and elected representatives begging for loose change at the bottom of highway offramps. Their cries of hardship as a result of revenue shortfalls would lead any taxpayer to conclude that public services are on the verge of collapse. Things are so bad, apparently, that many appointed and elected public-sector officials have actively campaigned for higher taxes amid a struggling economy to allay their misery.

It’s all a carefully crafted theater, of course. Governments have plenty of money lying around for stuff that’s important to them.

Take the North Las Vegas City Council. On Wednesday, it approved spending $15.8 million for 12 acres near the Silver Nugget casino as part of its plans to build a new $156 million City Hall.

Blowing nine figures now would save taxpayers money in the long run, we’re told, by building new offices for all the new employees expected to join the public payroll in the coming decades.

A few miles down the road, that same day, the Las Vegas City Council voted 6-1 to accept a report that pegs a 2.8-acre plot on First Street as the best place to build their new City Hall. There’s still room to grow in their current digs, but council members and city administrators assure the public that this undertaking is primarily about economic development.

Yes, we’re to believe that diverting $150 million from workers and businesses to give city staff sparkling new offices a few blocks from their old ones will rev up private-sector investment and job creation.

Who do these guys think they are? Congressmen?

The political class bemoans the plight of the working man, complaining that more social services or parks are needed for squeezed constituents, then finds a combined $300 million — enough to widen several miles of Interstate 15 — for two new buildings most taxpayers will never visit?

If these boondoggles are completed, let us never again hear local governments cry poverty to the taxpayer — ever.

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