It doesn’t take power or cash to make a difference. Sometimes a little information can do the trick.
Such is the case in Prairie Village where elected officials are blushing at the cost of dinners and travels billed to the residents.
Jori Nelson, a concerned resident, requested travel and expense information about the city council and mayor . She wasn’t too happy with what she found.
She told Fox4 Kansas City that she spent hours collecting information and tracking Prairie Village’s travel expenses for the last 10 years.
What she discovered doesn’t make her happy.
The community’s city administrator said the city budgeted $42,800 for just such expenses and only spent $29,500 on council meals and travel in 2010.
She said that includes hundreds in airfare, hotels and food.
“Fine dining at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse; at the Capitol Grill, to have $600 meals and alcohol,” she told the television station. “It is just not OK and it’s got to stop.”
Because of her diligence, city officials are investigating the matter and plan to release a report to the public this week.
We salute citizens like Jori Nelson who take an interest and the time to uncover the mysteries of where tax dollars disappear.
This community has its own share of concerned citizens who dig through public records trying to root out corruption and save taxpayer dollars. One local citizen dug through countless county tax appraisals and found more than $150,000 in school tax dollars that were left on the table when a large corporation was billed with a larger tax abatement than was actually approved.
For their trouble, these concerned citizens are often labeled as trouble makers and cast aside. And that’s too bad.
They’re saving the taxpayers money and holding government officials accountable.
It’s called good citizenship, and we owe them our gratitude.