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Editorial: Sign fiasco a symbol of waste

Editorial: Sign fiasco a symbol of waste

Every little bit of wasted taxpayer money adds up, depriving citizens of better government
Editorial: Sign fiasco a symbol of waste
A New York tourism sign along the Thruway westbound between Exits 25 and 25A.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Many people who get an unexpectedly high water bill later find out that the reason for the big increase was a small, barely noticeable drip from a single faucet over a long period of time.

No one pays attention to the little stuff until it all adds up into big stuff.

So Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration will try to slough away the $8.1 million the state spent buying and installing more than 500 of those worthless ugly blue highway signs as an investment in New York’s economy.

And now the federal government is following through with its threat from several years ago by notifying the state that it plans to withhold $14 million in federal highway aid if the signs — which violate federal highway laws — aren’t taken down or altered by Sept. 30.

Administration officials said the other day that the signs had exhausted their useful life anyway, so taking them down now is no big deal. The old signs will be replaced with new signs as part of another ineffective campaign to remind motorists that they’re in New York.

In the giant scheme of things, $8 million for road signs in the state’s $168 billion annual budget and a $14 million hit in the state’s $1.4 billion federal highway aid package is a drop in the bucket.

What’s a few million dollars here or there, right?

Tell that to the city of Albany, which is seeing a $12.5 million gap in its annual state aid allocation this year. The mayor says the loss will affect public safety, youth programs and other city services.

Tell that to the Schenectady school district, which said it needs $6.8 million more in state aid just to offer students the same level of services they’re  receiving in the current school year.

Tell that to the small communities throughout the area dealing with the cost of replacing aging water lines as the pipes burst in the bitter winter cold.

Tell it to every service agency at the state and local level that continues to try to meeting growing demands without enough money.

Gov. Cuomo might not see the harm in wasting $8 million for signs that violate federal standards, that are ineffective in generating tourism revenue and sales tax, and that cheapen and deface the state’s roadways. He might not see a $14 million federal penalty as a big deal.

But New York taxpayers see it. Local governments and school districts see it.

The people dealing with polluted water and broken highways and burst water pipes see it.

Every wasted tax dollar adds up, just like every drip, drip, drip from the faucet.

The sign fiasco is just the latest example of the indifference and irresponsibility shown by New York’s government to its taxpayers and to the people whose mission it is to serve.

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