Banner Year for Wasteful Spending?

Rhode Island stimulus project - a skate park
A skate park in Pawtucket, R.I. paid for with stimulus funds. Residents don't dislike the park, but say it wasn't a good use of money with the cash-strapped town laying off city workers and firefighters and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
CBS

A half million dollars in stimulus funds came to the rescue in financially-strapped Pawtucket, R.I. But it didn't help with their deficit, layoffs or unpaid school bills. Instead the town built a brand new skate park.

As 2009 draws to a close, the taxpayer's collective finger could probably be pointed at a lot of questionable government spending. But Citizens Against Government Waste Thursday picked what they call the worst projects of the 111th Congress, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

Top picks also include a $1.9 million water taxi service to a dilapidated beach town in Connecticut, an "urban art trail" that cost $3.8 million in Rochester, N.Y., and $3 million for new bike racks in Georgetown, one of the capitol's most affluent areas.

And $578,000 of your tax dollars were spent to fight homelessness in Union, N.Y. where nobody asked for the money, and they don't have a homeless problem.

It's not that the administration hasn't tried to root out questionable expenses.

"No swimming pools. No tennis courts. No golf courses," Vice President Joe Biden said in March.

But it's hard for anyone to oversee numbers this big: $217 billion in stimulus funds and billions in Congressional earmarks.

Congress specifically prohibited spending stimulus funds on casinos. But in Detroit, they got around that. They're building $1.5 million worth of decorative sidewalks, streetscapes and bike racks on the four roads that happen to surround a casino.

With the nation $12 trillion in debt, taxpayers may find it more difficult to watch their money spent on projects that don't seem urgent.

The fate of the economy may be uncertain. But as Congress rolls out the newest spending bill, fat with earmarks, taxpayers can count on one thing in 2010: more spending.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.