Davis County officialdom can’t resist new toys for the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff just picked up two Harley-Davidson motorcycles and three more canines, using money from private grants and the federal economic stimulus bill. The county also recently secured not one but three mobile command centers, and a few years ago accepted a $10,000 off-road utility vehicle from a tobacco company.
The county’s always armed with rationalizations for these acquisitions and expenses, but the irony is always clear: Davis is also prone to eyebrow-raising tax increase proposals and the subsequent and inevitable tax-protest sagas.
Davis taxpayers don’t like being played for suckers. The sheriff’s office has a bunch of new toys and are armed with lists of plausible excuses to offer those who might question the spending. Ultimately, all the reasons given are “dumb,” as my teenage daughter might say.
The Harleys will help officers get to some emergency sites more quickly and the dogs will help catch more druggies, officials say. They had private donations and “Obama bucks” to spend, so it’s OK, right? Not so fast. Local officials are dodging responsibility for questionable spending by, in effect, blaming the donors and the feds for the outlays. While that’s technically true, it also means the county is going to have to pick up the operational expenses next year. And, trying to sell this expansion as a critical need falls well short of credibility; until the pots of gold materialized, there were no cries of Harley or police dog crisis shortages.
The county said it needed three mobile emergency command centers because they have to be able to help Davis cities with their emergencies. Up north, Weber County says it gets along just fine with one mobile command unit. The Davis trifecta is a grossly redundant waste of tax funds, especially in a down economy. Officials should be consolidating services, not inefficiently balkanizing them even more.
You might think Davis had learned its lesson a few years ago when the sheriff’s office accepted a Polaris Ranger donated by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Officials talked about how the Ranger would help search and rescue efforts. They weren’t bothered about taking a freebie from an industry whose products kill thousands of Americans every year.
What will Davis officers get next? Mall-cop scooters?
Here’s my suggestion for the rallying cry of the next Davis tax revolt: Remember the Harley.