Thursday, November 13, 2008
Not Mike Dukakis’s snowblower
So if your spouse or teen-ager drove the family van to a Vermont ski resort from the People’s Republic of Amherst and forgot to check the oil and somehow missed the illuminated idiot light warning of imminent disaster, would you simply cough up $19,000 for a brand new van to replace the one with a seized motor?
Probably not. But Amherst taxpayers did that for the LSSE recreation empire in FY08. A Ford Windstar Van with only 54,000 miles sits forlornly in the DPW parking lot (actually moved onto the grass to make room) waiting to be sold “as is”--meaning it will bring in little to nothing.
Comparative healthy vans with that low mileage resell for anywhere between $4,000- $6,000.
One of the (many) quirks of municipal budgeting is that capital items are treated separately from the operation budget (as is insurance and employee benefits). When I buy a treadmill for my Health Club it's financed out of my everyday revenues, and if the revenues are not there then I don’t buy the item. And when I do buy an expensive item like that I take good care of it.
But municipal bureaucrats get to purchases capital items ($22,000 lawn mower for the Cherry Hill Golf Course for instance) outside their everyday operation budget. And as a result, that money is not always well spent.
And, as you can see, items purchased don't always get the best of care.