Continued Saga: Billable Hours vs. Public Service

by Charlotte O’Hara – as printed in the Johnson County Gazette – reprinted with permission

Well, well, well, the saga of Billable Hours vs. Public Service continues!!!

Chairman Kelly announced, on November 16th, his desire to increase the threshold of contract value to be reviewed by the board from $100,000 to $150,000. This little magic trick, if approved by the full board, will decrease the volume of contracts reviewed by a whopping 30%, decrease public transparency and decrease the board’s involvement with the inner workings of our departments……making the board more and more a figurehead, rubber stamping, dare I say, superfluous entity.

The excuse naturally followed the same logic, efficiency, that our chairman used in his quest to trim our meetings from 46 meetings a year to 26. Thankfully that idea went over like a lead balloon.

But wait, there’s more!!!

The BOCC held a Committee of the Whole following our chairman’s announcement of his efficiency plan!  Chairman Kelly gaveled in the meeting, asked the roll to be taken and without a word of explanation took flight, like a goose heading south, from the meeting. 

 I’m certain he had more pressing issues, such as billable hours attending to his law firm duties, than to sit through an hour-and-a-half presentation on the increase of reconstruction costs at the Nelson Wastewater facility. These costs have increased from $475 million in 2021 to an eye-popping $609 million.  I guess this 28.2% increase (which included many engineering iterations to find design cost savings) did not warrant his presence….apparently just as long as the record shows he was present at roll call.

Should Billable Hours drive public policy and commission meeting attendance? 

In my opinion:  you signed up for the job…so, show up, stay in the meetings, and do your job.

My next column will be an in-depth dive into the sleight-of-hand magic tricks used by the establishment/developer big boys to reduce their taxes and make you pay more.

 Economic development at its best!!  Stay tuned.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, reconnecting with family and friends.  Now we are on to the shortest day of the year and the season of Advent culminating in one of the two most Holy Christian Days, Christmas. God bless you and your family.

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