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Speed cameras create Girard spending debate

Girard has generated so much money policing for profit with its hand-held speed camera program that city leaders are arguing over how to spend it all. Some want to put more money into the city’s general fund for operations expenses while reducing the money council allocates to street repairs or capital improvements and safety. Still others desire to spend the funds on parks and even improvements to the city-owned gymnasium.

That is wrong on so many levels.

Council’s building and grounds committee is considering improvements to the city gymnasium, along with parks and cemeteries.

Council approved seeking requests of qualifications for professional architectural and engineering services for improving the gymnasium that was constructed in the 1930s.

Mayor James Melfi said these days it is rare for any city to still have a community gymnasium.

Maybe that’s because other communities have realized the expense for upkeep or maybe they have worked out collaborative agreements for the community to utilize nearby high school facilities for things like volleyball, basketball or walking. Girard, in fact, has a wonderful new high school with a big, beautiful gym.

We consistently have maintained the only reason for government’s existence should be to provide essential services to residents. How a city-run gymnasium fits that description is beyond us.

Then, there is our repeated argument that no government operation should ever compete with local business or industry. We’re guessing that taxpaying fitness centers might take issue with the city providing this service at reduced or no cost to residents.

And of course, we consistently argue against the use of speed cameras as nothing more than policing for profit.

So, Girard’s formula of policing for profit appears to be paying off. The cameras have proven to be so profitable, in fact, it appears the city now is convinced it can count on the money to pay for routine operating expenses.

We just wonder how many private businesses have lost customers who refuse to drive into the city after being ticketed by camera and by mail.

And we wonder, is it worth it?

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