OUR VIEW: An expensive lesson learned?

By Daily News • Last Updated 10:13 am on Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners were reluctant to allow a countywide public transportation millage to move forward … with good reason, as it turns out.

The Montcalm County Transportation Authority owes $11,631 to the Montcalm County Clerk’s Office and to local townships for election costs stemming from the Nov. 8 failed millage vote.

The Daily News quoted Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Q. Carr numerous times over the years expressing his concern about funding for the transportation proposal.

• “We can only go the well so many times. We can’t continue to ask people to give more money to provide them services.” — Carr in December 2006

• “I have some big concerns. I want to make sure you know before you put all this time in that it might not pass this board. Our task is keeping all the balls in the air with the finances we have.” — Carr in January 2009

• “I’ve said all along I’m opposed to this and I think a majority of my constituents feel the same way. I’ve made several concessions over the last few meetings but this doesn’t meet what I’m willing to bend.” — Carr in July 2009

In December 2009, commissioners voted 6-2 to approve a set of bylaws, thus allowing the creation of the Montcalm County Transportation Authority. Carr was among those voting “yes.”

District 2 Commissioner Tim Lindeman and District 5 Commissioner Carl Paepke cast the two “no” votes. Lindeman said he voted “no” because he felt the Board of Commissioners should manage the transportation issue rather than an independent board. Lindeman also expressed doubts about voters approving the transportation proposal.

Sure enough, the millage went down in flames on Nov. 8 and the fire continues to smolder three months later.

The Transportation Authority owes the Montcalm County Clerk’s Office $5,924 for ballots and programming the ballots. The Transportation Authority owes another $5,707 to 19 townships for election costs.
Will the bills be paid? Transportation Authority Chairman Franz Mogdis says the authority never had the funds to begin with, so we doubt it.

The Montcalm County Clerk’s Office has already had to deal with budget cuts. Many of our local townships are struggling to get by as it is.

The transportation millage took years to finally get on the ballot, but you wouldn’t know it from the disastrous outcome. This is bad planning and irresponsibility at its worst.

The next time a person or group of people ask commissioners to approve something, they’d better provide the funding up front. If they don’t, we hope our commissioners unanimously vote “no.” As a county, we can’t afford another costly mistake like this.

Hopefully we all learned a lesson while traveling this road to nowhere.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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