Ego winsout overfrugality

Early on during Monday’s meeting of the county commissioners, Vice-Chairman Ray Britt told a story about how a local nutrition center was forced to cut back on its meals for the elderly through the month of June from five days per week to three because of budget constraints.

Britt said the county should do something about that situation and County Manager Greg Martin was asked to look into it.

About 20 minutes later, common sense took a back seat when Britt and four other commissioners seemed to forget about the elderly lunch cutback and voted to approve $1,450 for photos of commissioners to be hung in county facilities.

It was clearly a case of ego winning out over frugality.

Commissioner Michael Cogdell originally recommended the idea several weeks ago and made the motion Monday to approve the dollars be spent, so we’re not surprised by his lack of good judgement. Commissioners Arthur Bullock, who seconded the motion, and Ophelia Munn-Goins are often partnering peas in the pod with Cogdell, so we’re not surprised by their support.

But we are surprised by the support of Commissioners Britt and Russell Priest, because we thought they had more sense when it came to spending taxpayers’ money. Britt, a local businessman, knows all too well that protecting the nickles and dimes of a budget is key to keeping the bottom line healthy; and Priest, a local educator and coach, also knows the need to stay within the parameters of a budget by avoiding frivolous spending.

And hanging photos of county commissioners in the courthouse and other county buildings is just that … frivolous.

If there is a lesson these five elected officials need to learn, it comes from a line in the 1985 movie “Brewster’s Millions” that was uttered by Rupert Horn (played by Hume Cronyn): “I’m gonna teach you to hate spending money. I’m gonna make you so sick of spending money that the mere sight of it will make you wanna throw up!”

We will take this time to applaud the votes of Commissioners Charles Ray Peterson, Ashley Trivette, David Gooden and Daniel Dowless against the motion.

Britt stated the folks at the nutrition center are charged $5 for lunch, so it would seem that $1,450 could have been used far more sensibly had the board voted to send that money to be used for meals until the next fiscal year’s budget kicked in.

That $1,450 also could have been used as a nice early show of support to the folks in East Arcadia, who asked the board Monday for assistance with a town park project that will cost $115,000.

A drop in the bucket, you say? Perhaps. But when we look at the county’s current and future budget, there are very few, if any, drops to give away — especially for something that does nothing but stroke the egos of a few commissioners.



“It’s wasteful spending like this that not only forces tax increases and cuts in vital services, but also really makes you wonder who (the county) is looking out for?” (Laura Miller)