Spending money is not an issue for the Naperville city council, however saving a dollar here or there is darn near impossible for council members. During Naperville’s last city council meeting on June 4th, the Naperville city council quickly and easily approved spending more than $16 million for various needs and wants. There was no mention of trying to save Naperville tax payers any of those dollars. There seldom ever is. In fact, can anyone remember the last time the Naperville city council saved a dollar for anything. It may have happened, but I can’t remember it.
Spending other people’s money (tax dollars) comes rather easy for the Naperville city council. It would be similar to you having your neighbor’s check book, and writing checks for whatever you want or need. If the balance gets a bit low, you simply require your neighbor to add more to the account. The question becomes, what’s the incentive for council members to spend less and save more. One incentive would simply be to do the right thing for the residents of Naperville. Isn’t that what they are elected to do. Seems like that would work, but it doesn’t. We’ve seen time and again, that doing what’s best for residents, isn’t part of the equation, when council members vote on issues.
So is there an incentive that would work? The answer is yes, and the incentive for Naperville city council members is getting re-elected. The chance of not being re-elected is a frightening thought for most any politician. Any doubt of that was erased when the Naperville city council worked so hard to overturn district representation (approved by a landslide vote in 2010), and return to the ‘politician- friendly’ at-large method of voting for council members.
Two additional political moves on the wish-lists of Naperville city council members would be to overturn term-limits imposed by Naperville residents by a landslide vote in 2010, and have only four council members (rather than all eight) run for re-election in 2015. It’s much easier to get only four re-elected rather than all eight.
It’s not too soon to start thinking about which, if any, council members should be re-elected; the election is only 666 days from this Tuesday (coincidental number?). So I suggest we begin to keep score and see which council members vote to spend and which, if any, vote to save. Getting re-elected is a powerful incentive, but is it powerful enough to help Naperville residents save money through their ‘at-large’ elected officials. If only we had district representation, we would definitely have our answer.