Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Joy in Mudville

Lowell residents cannot be too pleased with the stewardship of their local tax dollars, nor can state officials who provide state turnback funds to city and county governments. Some will question the judgment of the city officials, and everyone will be disgusted with the poor management of fiscal resources.

A few years ago, the City of Lowell purchased a replica stagecoach, supposedly as a symbol to promote the city's rich history at various events. They paid Ray Dotson $16,500 for the stagecoach and an additional $10,000 to restore it. Dotson retained possession and use of the stagecoach, used it in his business Ozark Mountain Carriages, and now has demanded that the city pay him $28,248 for storage and expenses. That’s more than $50,000 for a stagecoach said to be a symbol and sometimes used in the Mudtown Days festival one weekend a year. This is all in court now, running up additional legal expenses to be paid with tax dollars.

Mayor Perry Long also promised he would construct a city park by the end of the year to be built by Lowell Street Department employees. In April, the city rented an Ingersoll-Rand SD 70 Roller, a Caterpillar 325 CL Trac Hoe, a Caterpillar Dozer, and a TA27 Terex Dump Truck for a total of $23,050 a month (or $755 a day), and it has now been rented for two months without much to show for it except bills to be paid with taxpayer dollars. The equipment is sitting idle, and city officials blame the rain. Jimmy Hendrix, Lowell street department manager said, “I don't know exactly how many days we worked out there or when.” Mayor Long said, “We know it's eating our lunch.” So do the citizens of Lowell.

It's not as bad as a $62 million cost overrun on a sewer plant, but it is still a shameful waste of taxpayers' money.

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