A Little Something Extra This Year

editorial-logo3Last week, Jefferson County was in Thanksgiving mode and now the Holiday Season has started in earnest. The County Commission and most of the Committees will be on hiatus until after the New Year. This is a much needed break and a chance for the 21 Commissioners to regroup. When they return in January they will be looking at some serious issues, including financing the portion of the JCHS renovation that was slotted to come from fund balance and addressing the Sanitation deficit. Though the mandated Audit Committee has spent the last two meetings listening to pitches from independent companies looking to capitalize on the current situation with the Landfill, the truth is that the Committee doesn’t have the teeth to mothball the Landfill and the Sanitation Board is watching closely as the Audit Committee entertains outside interests. Sanitation Board Members came to the last meeting to hear the proposal, however they were not a part of the question and answer process, which is interesting if contracting outside the County is something that is under serious consideration. The deficit will still be there, regardless of what happens from now forward and neither of these companies that made presentations to contract for the County Landfill business can wipe away that obligation. Joe High is a member of the Audit Committee and he tried to steer the conversation to accounting options that might impact the deficit, which would appear to be a truly viable avenue to investigate. I hope that when this Committee reconvenes in 2014 that they spend their time looking for answers to fund or negate the multi million dollar deficit and leave the validity of the County operating our own Landfill to the Sanitation Board.

The County Commission will also look at financing $5 million dollars that is a part of the renovation to JCHS that was to come from fund balance. I hope that they spend this hiatus thinking about that decision. The Financial Advisor gave a lengthy presentation regarding this issue and one line of reasoning for taking on more debt rather than funding the obligation from fund balance was to ease the way for a land purchase for a County owned BusinessPark. According to the Industrial Development Board, nothing is on the horizon concerning a BusinessPark, at this time. I am always queasy about taking advice from those that benefit financially from my decisions. Maybe it’s fine. And maybe it’s not. But it certainly deserves $5 million dollars worth of scrutiny. $5 million dollars seems to be the magic number for 2014-$5million deficit, $5 million in possible financing. Of course, that is $10 million dollars worth of decisions that will be on tap in early 2014. Maybe Santa will leave a little something extra in our stocking this year. I’m guessing coal.

Source: K. Depew, News Director