Outgoing Board of Supervisors made wise decision by not making a decision

Published 10:12 am Monday, December 30, 2019

In the final decision as a governmental body — and for many of them, their final decision as elected officials — the Warren County Board of Supervisors decided instead to not make a decision. In doing so, that non-decision was a tremendously smart move.

During the supervisors’ Dec. 16 meeting, they were presented with the issue of how to best remove more than 240,000 cubic square feet of debris from the Eagle Lake community. The debris was left behind by the demolition of 24-flood ravaged homes in that community by the disaster response group Team Rubicon.

For roughly two weeks, crews with Team Rubicon demolished homes severely damaged by the months-long flood in the Eagle Lake area and moved the debris — when they could — to the county’s right of way. The county was then responsible for the safe removal of that debris.

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The problem was the amount of debris and the tremendous cost to county taxpayers for the removal. Early estimates had put the debris removal to cost nearly $180,000. And none of that money spent would be eligible to be reimbursed by state or federal agencies.

Had the work been completed before Oct. 31, before an emergency declaration had expired, the cost of debris removal could have been reimbursed to the county.

So at that Dec. 16 meeting, supervisors waited to hear the results of a bidding process for dumpster services that would help county crews in quickly and efficiently removing the debris. That bid opening was scheduled for Dec. 23.

At that meeting, with just over a week left in their term, supervisors heard the bids and again looked at a staggering cost, this time lower, but still in excess of $130,000.

While it would seem the decision by supervisors to “take the matter under advisement” was passing the buck to the new slate of officials, set to take office Wednesday, the move was proper and forward-thinking, something this newspaper has not always called decisions made by the current board.

By delaying the decision, the new board, which will welcome four, first-time supervisors, will have the opportunity to determine what is best. It would have been irresponsible for a board of four outgoing supervisors to leave the new board a bill in excess of $130,000 to pay.

The challenge now is the speed at which the new Board of Supervisors act.

The debris has been on the right of ways for a number of weeks now and needs to be removed. If there are other options than placing the dumpsters in the community to aid county crews, then those alternatives need to be quickly discussed and a decision made.

The residents of Eagle Lake have gone through enough disarray for a lifetime, having debris left around is one more headache they do not need.

The inaction by the outgoing Board of Supervisors was the correct move; future inaction will not be.