I recently attended a local government meeting in which program team members were warned not to include clients outside the jurisdiction because of funding source restrictions. The funding was from a federal source. The “do-not-share” message was startling to some in the audience, but others understood. Someone had to deliver this administrative message.
At the University of California at Berkeley, I attended a taxation course with Professor George Break of the economics department. One of the concepts in that course was program funding spill-ins and spill-outs; those expenditures that come from other sources or that benefit unintended recipients. Professor Break was clear and convincing that program expenditures do not stop at jurisdictional boundaries. Inevitably, program expenditures for many government programs trickle outside jurisdictional boundaries. Publicly funded programs such as transit, law enforcement, pollution control, environmental services and perhaps hundreds more spill in and out of towns, cities, counties, regions, states and even national boundaries.
So, back to the original question. Do we really have to restrict program services for nonmembers of the intended community? Do we not recognize that administrative efforts to do so, though well intentioned, really defeat our objectives of good intergovernmental relations and perhaps reality? Taken to an absurd level, some jurisdictions recently have sent mentally ill patients across state lines to receive better care. Does this behavior by government forcefully encourage spill-out of services and expenditures?
Now, apply this economic concept to your jurisdiction. With what authority, administrative skills and practice do you resolve this expenditure dilemma? Taking this to the streets: do you instruct your bus drivers not to serve other towns?
Do you prevent social services from serving an adjacent, poorer community? Do you instruct your public safety officers to scale back services to a neighboring jurisdiction? What about the event center, college or hospital that continuously increases traffic in an adjacent jurisdiction?
Submitted by Geoff McLennan