So many county and local governmental gatherings are filled with line items and agenda yawns.
Wednesday at the Hamilton County Commission was not one of those. Thanks to the excellent coverage from this paper's Meghan Mangrum from this morning's Hamilton County Commission, two serious issues must be discussed.
First, there's the stinky mess of our wastewater treatment needs in the northeast part of the county.
The issue has been brewing. And bubbling.
Money for a new treatment plant was a project identified by Mayor Jim Coppinger last year. The need for more treatment capacity bounced around and around. It has been haggled about and it has been kicked down the road. And the fact that we are still assembling committees and wondering WWTD (What Will They Do) about the WWTA is frustrating.
Gang, this mess was made worse in December when the county commissioners crumbled because there were 300 angry residents determined that a new plant would not be built in their backyards near Mahan Gap Road. And while he and I have not always seen eye-to-eye, I can't put it any better than commissioner Tim Boyd did Wednesday morning, "Growth has consequences, consequences is a lot of toilets and what goes down those toilets has to be handled," Boyd said. "We need to make decisions not for 200 families, but for 357,000-plus residents of Hamilton County."
Coppinger said back in December that not approving the plant would cost us millions. He proved it Wednesday when he asked for $25 million more for the plant that we not only need, but we are going to have to have. (Read that again: We HAVE to have this. It's not an option — though no one wants a poop plant in their backyard — because federal fines and penalties are about to start, shall we say, flowing downhill.)
Then the issue of taxpayers' funds and how they are used was part of the commission's discussion about the Ed Johnson Memorial on the Walnut Street Bridge.
There will be a vote next week at the commission meeting for giving $100,000 in county bond funds to assist with the memorial for Johnson, who was lynched from the bridge in 1906.
In the kettle of cash that is the Hamilton County budget, 100 grand is couch-cushion stuff. And that's not to downplay the value and importance of the Johnson Memorial.
If the county commission is going to start writing checks — of any size — for memorials or charities or good-intentioned private groups, well, that's wrong.
If you want to contribute to a cause, do it with your money. Be it a church or a charity, that's your right and certainly would be appreciated.
But to start handing out county-issued checks for a cause — any cause — then begs the question: Where do you draw the line?
Why is that cause better, more important, more pressing, more needed, more whatever, than another? How do you look at the supporters of any of those causes — whether it's sick kids or shelter kittens, whether it's housing for the homeless or righting our history — and say that one is more important than yours?
In the end, once we say yes and start handing out those checks, those contributions will make the WWTA price tag look like something you would find at a yard sale.
And then we're flushing a whole lot of money down the toilet.
Contact Jay Greeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.