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home : opinion : editorial June 24, 2016

9/11/2013 1:19:00 PM
County's Towlerton idea has too many negatives

County's Towlerton idea has too many negatives
My interest in county government began long before serving 10 years as a commissioner. It is natural that it continues after not seeking re-election.
Recent developments surrounding the possible county purchase of the so-called Towlerton building have caused me to investigate and write this letter.
During my 10 years on the board, we did considerable moving and remodeling of county offices. They are literally custom-made for their usages, including security and confidentiality as needed. They also are all paid for.
I see little need for moving any of them to a building not suited to be a modern office building - a building that would probably take a couple of million dollars to convert. The oft-mentioned improved efficiency may never be realized and the cost-to-benefit ratio could be prohibitive.
It is now obvious, after a recent poll, that taxpayers overwhelmingly prefer that a private business operate on that site, rather than a non-taxpaying local government.
Yet another negative would be that if some busy offices were moved out of our historically beautiful and very functional Courthouse, other businesses around the Square might suffer.
Beyond all those negatives for purchasing the old feed-mill-factory-turned-auto-business is the manner it has been handled. If a person had a suspicious mind, they might even think it was purposely hidden from the public.
For the first three meetings in which the matter was discussed, it was not put on the announced agenda. It was instead offered as an addition to the agenda by an individual commissioner at the start of the meeting.
After that, a closed meeting was held to discuss negotiations.
There were no outside committees, no public input, no fiscal plan, no valid announcement prior to discussion and no specific discussion time announced so busy people could attend. Most importantly, we've never been told whether it would be funded by a bond requiring public approval, or if we would tap further into our long-term reserves in the face of state-imposed levy limits.
Transparency, the public's right to know and public input are all terms that mean something to this old conservative. How 'bout you?
Maybe it is time to get into the 21st century and video record county commissioner meetings.
    - Ron Kuecker

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