Paying the "experts"
I don't always agree with Washington County Commissioner Bracken Burns. In fact, sometimes I disagree with him vehemently. But one thing is undeniable. The guy is quotable. A recent example of this came at a meeting in which the commissioners were asked to approve a $41,000 bill for a company to inspect construction work at the county airport and submit some plans to the Federal Aviation Administration. More than $37,000 of that amount is for the company to supervise the move of a utility vault from the airport safety zone. Said Burns, "It's going to cost $37,000 to watch someone do that? I'll watch. How in the hell could it cost $40,000 just to watch that happen? That's just crazy. I may take some time off and go to engineering school." Well said. His comments came back to me Wednesday when I was putting a story on the front page about the possibility of giving the city farmers' market, now held in a city parking lot, a permanent location as part of a renovation of the old railroad station at the foot of South Main Street. The state is going to spend $43,000 on a feasibility study to see if this can happen. So, again, we're spending what I consider to be a pretty good chunk of taxpayers' money - yours and mine - to have somebody look something over. Have we gotten to the point where we have no one in our community or county with the necessary level of expertise to handle this sort of thing, maybe even donating that expertise for the common good? I can't believe that we don't have a local contractor or engineer who could saunter down to the foot of Main Street, take a look-see and report back on whether this project is possible. But, no, we'll spend more than $40,000 and Lord knows how much time wallowing in consultation and bureaucracy.