Probably the best example of why I broke rank and voted against the 2020 county budget is the commission’s ongoing rubber stamp on building a new Chilson Bridge on abandoned state highway 18. Choose between building an at-grade bypass for $1 million entirely with federal money or spending $1 million federal dollars, $2.2 million state dollars, and $800,000 Fall River taxpayer dollars on a new bridge. Would you choose free access with no future bridge inspections/replacements or an additional $100 per man, woman, and child in taxes plus on-going inspections and bridge replacement costs? No one in their right mind would choose the latter.
However, government officials and their employees have different incentives than taxpayers who want the highest level of service for the least cost. The commissioners don’t want to challenge the SDGF&P, Engineering firm, SD Department of Transportation, or the few citizens who think a bridge could be installed more quickly. The bypass would raise the Mickelson trail 20 feet over a gradually sloped 300 feet. The engineering firm and SDDOT would lose out on the paid design work, oversight of a bridge construction, installation, plus future inspections and supervision.
The county budget is filled with conflicts of interest and these should be settled to the taxpayer’s benefit. Unfortunately, the commission’s priority seems to be getting along with other government employees. Insanely, we are building an expensive bridge on a now little used county road over an abandoned railroad line instead of a commonsense bypass.
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