A Curve Ball

editorial-logo3Sometimes you think that you are going in one direction and life throws you a curve ball. I had planned to write this editorial on the lack of understanding that most County Commissioners seem to have regarding the State’s demand for an Audit Committee. There appears to be little understanding of the serious nature of the audit finding stating that the County is not meeting its obligation to prepare for the eventual landfill closing, the projected cost of which is around $7.3 million dollars. How much do we have set aside to meet our $7.3 million dollar obligation? Yep, you guessed it. Of course, we are only expected to have almost $4.9 available, as of the most recent audit. I would say that this is the pinnacle of poor planning.

And speaking of poor planning, the roof fell in on Jefferson County High School on Sunday. It collapsed in Building 8, taking with it the exterior wall of the drama department and destroying multiple classrooms. Flat roofs and torrential rains are just not a good combination. It is only by the grace of God that children were not sitting in those classrooms when the roof came tumbling down. We, as a County and Community, avoided a potentially tragic event by mere weeks. Rescue personnel sent cadaver dogs into the scene to be assured that there were no casualties and, thankfully, there were none. If school had been in session, I fear that there would have been an entirely different result. The structure of the roof at JCHS is poor-that is undebatable. It has leaked like a sieve for years, unable to shed off standing water due to lack of pitch. The County has argued and prolonged the school building program for years-that, too, is undebatable. Regardless of a pro or con stance on new schools, we should have been taking care of the ones that we already have. Our children spend the best part of 18 years in these facilities and they deserve a safe place to be educated. We are not a third world country and we need to stop reacting like we are. This collapsed roof is just the exclamation point at the end of a string of poor planning that is the fabric of Jefferson County. It is time to wake up and take care of business. We need to know where we are going and how we are going to afford to get there. 13 cents on the tax rate plugs the hole, but it will not stem the tide long term. We cannot keep going to fund balance for a quick fiscal fix and we cannot afford to ignore the needs in our County. We need a long-term plan for County wide management and we need it now. Before the collapse becomes more detrimental than it already is.

Source: K. Depew, News Director