What does a county government do when it suddenly finds itself with $500,000 burning a hole in its pocket? Fix its badly deteriorating roads? Restore the county government to serving its citizens 5 days a week? Give employees some well-deserved raises? Update technology? Perhaps hire much needed personnel (i.e., a code enforcement officer, a certified/licensed commercial appraiser, a certified planner....all currently non-existent staff positions)? Some background:
- Elbert County recently refinanced a $5 million plus loan on the justice center.- The previous lender, Wells Fargo, required that the county hold $500,000 in reserves to ensure that EC could make its payments.- The current lender requires no such reserves, thus making $500,000 available in the county coffers.
So, in response to the newly discovered cash, the county commissioners, at their regularly scheduled meeting on December 7, 2016, authorized (by a 2-1 vote: Rowland and Willcox in favor, Ross opposed) County Manager Ed Ehmann to pursue the purchase of the shuttered Bank of the West building in Kiowa....currently listed for sale at $548,000. A few glaring concerns (a.k.a. lack of research) with this plan:
If we truly do have a shortage of space (which is questionable since an analysis of current usage vs. needs has not been performed or presented to the public or to the county commissioners), let's look at some possible solutions that would more effectively utilize taxpayers' money:
Fortunately, the agreement signed has a 60-day clause allowing the county to back out of this contract for "any reason." Let's hope the new commissioners look at the folly of this hasty decision, take a step back, thoroughly investigate the actual cost of making the bank space usable, survey what other options might be available in the county for additional space, and ultimately make the very best use of the taxpayers' money.Jill Duvall