Federal grants have strings attached. In this case, the money would not flow unless Scottsdale purchased a mobile police surveillance tower. Not only was there no need for the tower; purchasing it would have locked-in future city spending to maintain it.
Accepting stimulus money threatens dependency on future federal grants and obligates the city to accept the strings attached to them. This is a cycle that responsible local government officials must break.
Scottsdale has well served its citizens, but too many cities lack its foresight. When confronted with the lure of easy federal money, most cities succumb to financial pressures.
Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute's Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.