Our Opinion: Good triumphs over better in council vote

When good prevails over better by a narrow margin, it’s difficult to be too critical of the outcome.

The Jefferson City Council this week voted 6-4 to add nearly $200,000 to asphalt overlay projects, bringing the total to about $1.2 million. The $196,000 addition reflects money budgeted for roadway salt, but not spent because of the mild winter.

The 10-member council defeated an amendment by 1st Ward Councilman Bob Weber to retain the unspent money in the city’s budget for future needs.

The six members who approved the expenditure have a good argument. Maintaining infrastructure is an essential government service. Taxpayers finance and deserve smooth roads.

We believe the four council members on losing side offered a better argument. Weber supported his amendment by pointing out the city anticipates a tighter budget year in 2013 and money carried over could fill or narrow the gap.

And he explained the city nearly has doubled the budget for overlay projects this year.

A once-popular idiom — “money burns a hole in his pocket” — frequently is applicable to government. The saying references the inclination to spend rather than save money.

In government, unmet needs always exist. Government officials are tempted to spend because solving problems satisfies constituents.

And immediate spending brings rewards, whereas saving money risks dividends being paid after a term of office has ended.

Saving for tomorrow’s needs may be less expedient, but is more courageous.

We salute the courageous council members, but find no fault among others who opted to maintain city infrastructure.

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