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Enger questions bus, jail decisions

By Staff | Dec 7, 2009

To the Editor:

After the new jail opened, I had hoped that my venting would be finished. Not so.

For many of us who have followed the many illogical decisions made by our Faribault County Board with regard to the new jail, it came as no surprise that they had absent-mindedly forgotten about maintenance and the cost thereof. No thought of who was going to mow the lawn, move the snow, empty the waste baskets, dust the desks, vacuum or mop the floors, clean the restrooms, make repairs and the list goes on. Is there a person trained to run the sophisticated heating system?

The new jail building is just under one acre in size and will, in the future, need a new roof, maintenance of the heating system and of the parking lot. Where will that money come from? Oops, stupid question.

After debt service (paying the mortgage on the money borrowed), staffing expense (6-8 new employees), heating bills, electric bills, maintenance and repairs, the new jail will cost the taxpayers of Faribault County an extra $1.6 to $1.8 million dollars annually. That is more than a 10 per cent increase to the county’s budget. Those numbers will increase each year, also. This is what happens when there is too much ‘non-sense’ and not enough ‘common-sense.’

Now the County Board has decided to allow the Prairie Express van service to go out of the county. In fact, if you live outside of the county, you could call and reserve a ride from say, Albert Lea, to visit your relative in Winnebago, and pay a $12 round-trip fee.

So, the van would have to go to Albert Lea, probably empty, and return, probably empty, after the drop off. That trip would be approximately 200-plus miles and the van would be on the road approximately five hours. Cost of the trip would be around $120 to $140 without adding in depreciation for the vehicle. Now I doubt the $12 fee – plus what the state kicks in – would come close to covering the expenses. I heard no discussion of cost per mile or making it a one year trial period and then reviewing the situation. Apparently when Commissioner Bill Groskreutz pounded the table at the board meeting and took a verbal shot at the City of Blue Earth, it was enough to muster a 3-2 vote in favor of taking the vans outside of the county.

But, the kicker for me is that now someone from Faribault County can ride the van to Albert Lea or Fairmont to buy groceries and many other things that could be purchased in this county. And we not only give them a ride, but we subsidize the cost of the ride, too. If I were a shopkeeper in Faribault County I would be none too happy. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

It reminds me of a quote I heard by someone which says “Politicians and County Commissioners are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers.”

Uffda Megge,

Mike Enger, Blue Earth