Monday, June 7, 2010


If you are reading this and it upsets you because you think that all I do is complain about Hyperion and criticize the county commissioners, you can stop now, because I’m about to slam them again. Unless you want to stay informed, this column is not for you. STOP NOW!.. I’m warning you, all that follows is truth (under revision by the commissioners of course) and reasonable questions about judgment and unreasonable actions. That said, here we go.

The county commissioners are considering (actually going to ) an opt out from the property tax freeze on the 15th of July because the highway department has run out of money to keep the infrastructure in good repair. According to the 20 year plan by the highway superintendant, in order to keep the miles of asphalt roads in good repair the county must redo 10 miles of repairs each year in order to maintain all the roads. (This chart is not to actual scale, but just to present a visual representation of what has happened over the last 10 years.) The superintendant presented this power point presentation at the last commissioners meeting. The first sections of the bars represent 2001. The costs of materials were low. The budget was adequate and the number of roads rebuilt was 10 miles. In 2005 the costs of materials had risen the budget remained the same, and the number of miles had fallen by about 50%. In the 3rd section, the cost of materials had risen another 50%, the budget remained the same and the number of miles had fallen another 50%. Because of the rise in materials, the superintendant said he is no longer able to maintain the 20 year plan. Duh! The number of miles redone in 2009 was 4 miles. The superintendant has been trying to stretch it out by reducing the amount of chip seal etc. that is being used, but this won’t hold up to the 20 year cycle. So, what used to cost $7,500 a mile 5 years ago is now costing $20,000 per mile today. It costs $60,000 per mile for the county to do its own asphalt work, so $600,000 a year will do 10 miles. But – we have to do more than 10 miles, we have 9 years of underrepair to catch up on so – if this year we do $900,000 that would be 10 miles plus the 5 we were behind last year. If we only do a couple of miles a year, it is going to take a hell of a long time to catch up, so what is $250,000 going to do for us if we Opt Out? It is going to take $900,000 to just start to catch up. I do not understand.
I do know this much; somebody screwed up. If the superintendant saw that the county was falling behind, why didn’t he ask for money 9 years ago to keep on schedule? If the commissioners saw that the highway department was falling behind, why didn’t they question it and apply more money to that department so the roads would stay in good repair. Why did they wait until funds were exhausted before they decided to take action? Farmers have to get their product to market and if the roads are crappy, they have to take more trips with lighter loads or the roads will break up worse than they have been. My second question is who is accountable for the screw up, the superintendant or the commissioners? Will the commissioners acknowledge they are responsible? After all, they are the ones who approve the budget? But wait a minute. About a year ago when I complained about the incompetency of the land use administrator, the Chairman of the County Commissioners said and I quote. “It is not his position or that of the commissioners to “Micro manage” each department in the court house.” Well, is oversight considered micromanaging? Because we are talking maybe $ millions of dollars to fix this thing and I don’t think it can be covered up, but then again one never knows what the sitting body is liable to do. This could be ‘unforeseen’ circumstances or something like that. Although it is my understanding that in this 10 year period, the payroll did increase by $200,000. Hm-m-m-m-m. Trust me on this. Opt Out is not going to solve this problem. Opt Out without changes will not solve this problem. The old ‘tax and spend’ theory is what got us into this in the first place. Prudent management of personnel and making a budget work is the answer. British Prime minister Margaret Thatcher said that the problem with socialism is that you can only spend so much of other people’s money. I think this is a neat parody of our commissioners. You can only spend so much of our tax money before you are in deep kimchee.
Now for Hyperion!
EPA tightens sulfur dioxide limits
Good news for asthmatics, children, the elderly and those who have breathing disorders. For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued standards that lower the acceptable levels of sulfur dioxide emissions and increase the intervals the gas is monitored. Under the new rules, sulfur dioxide levels will be cut nearly in half from the current 140 parts per billion averaged over 24 hours to 75 parts per billion measured hourly. The new rules, which go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, are designed to protect against short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide, produced when power plants or other industrial facilities burn coal as an energy source. The states will have to submit implementation plans by June 2011, and the first areas that won’t meet the standard identified the following year.
Those of us against Hyperion have been saying since day one that this was as problem. I wonder why we are so smart that we can figure this out three years before the EPA can. Damn we’re good!!


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