Mini Editorial

Monday, November 27, 2006

Figuring for ourselves

We are going to apologize in advance for this thought, because it unfairly questions people who are trying undeniably to do what is best for the public.

Do we really need to hire a consultant to tell us what to do with the BV Courthouse now that the jail is moving out? Did we really need to pay an expert from far away to come in, in order to speak to our own county department heads about their needs?

Now, the gentleman who was hired is a fine professional and we are certain he is earning every cent. But could the county supervisors we already pay have at first tried to plan, or perhaps a committee of courthouse leaders?

It is understandable to hire well-paid architects and project management to construct a new building, like the jail. Our country does not have that kind of expertise on hand. In some cases an outside view can be helpful, in others, it is the opposite.

There are obvious needs - starting with the driver's license people stuck in the middle of a hallway. Growing importance of veterans services and environmental services may warrant a little more space - which could possibly be made flexible for sharing. Court and storage needs must be studied as well as the prospects of consolidation someday.

But before we eat up all the space that is to be emptied (only to start fretting over a lack of space in another year or so) maybe we should really be looking at a bigger picture.

Right now taxpayers pay for not only the courthouse, but three large annex buildings. Is it possible that an efficient reallocation that looks at all the potential space in all the buildings, new jail included, might spare us one rent payment?

At least giving the matter some attention might justify the expense of hiring an outside expert to tell us how to put our own house in order. Unfair, but it's a thought...