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Front Page » April 11, 2006 » Opinion » Examine the lessons of rising prices
Published 3,177 days ago

Examine the lessons of rising prices


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

It seems with everything we buy, prices continually go up.

Look at me. A few years ago (yes, I mean years) we began remodeling our kitchen. We had planned for so much money and thought we could complete it with those funds.

We were wrong. While some things are done, a number of things remain unfinished. I didn't plan very well so I continue to pay the price; a kitchen that looks partially finished and will continue to do so until I can find the money to finish it. In addition, a few ideas to finish it have been added along the way, all of which will cost more. Again we will have to wait until we have the money. At the outset of the project we decided no money would be borrowed for it.

In recent weeks the county has found that, because of some flaws in the planning process, the North Springs shooting sports project is going to cost more than they thought. I don't think anyone in their right mind would have expected the project to stay within budget. Projects like that always tend to grow a little and with rising prices they cost more.

But the biggest part of the problem with this project is that some things got left out of the equation when it was being planned. Things like an electrical power supply, a sewer system where needed and water to quench the thirst of sweaty shooters on a hot summers day.

If I remember correctly, initially it was thought the power that runs through the area and supplies gas pumps could be used to take care of the needs. But apparently that power supply would not be adequate to run the pumps and provide service for what will be needed in the range area. That means building a new power line for some distance. That would be expensive.

Next it was thought that the water on the property might be fine as a supply for the range. While I am not sure about the exact reasons it cannot be used, I am sure it has to do with either water rights, the amount of the supply or potability of the resource, or maybe all three.

There is apparently some problems with a right of way on the property as well. That can always be costly.

My point here is this. I seldom have seen anything that government does cost less than it is estimated to cost in the planning stages. Having worked for public education and higher education in this state for a long time and with many other government entities as a consultant years ago, the norm is for costs to always exceed expectations.

Now that happens in private business sometimes too, but the difference is that the money that is spent there is not public money. Private owners and/or investors are involved and they can decide if a project gets more money or not.

In government spending there is only basically one place the money comes from; the taxpayer. Now you can call the money anything you want; a grant, a low cost loan, money that came from severance taxes or royalties. It can be committed to a project by federal, state or local agencies. Regardless, it still comes from the public coffers, and that money is mine and yours, and everyone else who pays taxes.

We have seen this before; a project half done, with the hopes of many who want to use the facility or site pinned in place, hoping that soon it can be what they envisioned. But a snag in one thing or many holds it up, making everyone uneasy and often unhappy. And usually things must be scaled back, a compromise that makes literally no one, satisfied.

My kitchen is like that right now. It needs some taping and painting, some ceiling tile, some moldings and some shelving. It too makes me uneasy and often unhappy. It's not done, but it is very useable, until I can afford to finish it.

This project is an important one; one that must be completed for it to be meaningful and useful. Unlike my kitchen, it won't work very well halfway done.

But the next time we as a county or any of the cities decide to do something like this, we certainly could learn from the mistakes we made on this one.

And, even though it sounds simplistic, maybe we could even find a way to fund it on a "pay as we go" plan.


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April 11, 2006
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