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Majority of commission does right thing by purchasing local vehicles E-mail
Saturday, 22 June 2013 08:27

L&T Our Opinion


Thanks to three county commissioners, two vehicles, at a lower price, were purchased from a local dealer rather than spending the money out of town.

The Cimarron Basin Community Corrections needed to replace two vehicles with high mileage. They received quotes from in-town lots as well as from GSA, the General Services Administration, which procures 60,000 vehicles for the federal government.

The highest bid was from GSA.

It’s not surprising. The federal government has mandated that all vehicles be purchased through the GSA, and that removes competition.

What is somewhat disappointing is that this was not a 5-0 vote.

There are a few reasons why, as explained by Commissioner C.J. Wettstein, unfortunately, none of them are any good.

Wettstein is the chairman of the CBCC making the vehicle request, and his first justification was that another government agency uses the GSA, so they should, too.

This is government justifying government to itself. If one agency is not bidding the process and searching out local options does not make it acceptable for everyone else to do the same.

CBCC Director Mike Howell also pointed out that the money was not Seward County money but “state” money.

It is tax money, and if all elected officials would be just as frugal with state and federal dollars as with local dollars, the tax burden could be reduced across the board and still meet the needs of the agencies serving the taxpayers. In the end, that is what happened here, but only after a majority of the county commission intervened.

Which brings up another justification from Wettstein that should not sit well with taxpayers.

He pointed out that the CBCC board he chairs made their recommendation for the more expensive vehicles, and that if the commission was going to accept a different quote, that “maybe we ought to just let the commission make all the decisions.”

The role of the CBCC is to gather quotes and provide them to the county commission to make the decision, as they are by law required to do.

While the members of the CBCC are all great volunteers serving their community, it is the Seward County Commission that is responsible to the taxpayers by being elected to office.

Wettstein’s statement could be reversed. If all the commission was supposed to do was rubber stamp committee decisions, why have a commission?

The two work together to address a need, and in this case, the neeed was met with a less expensive solution supported by Jim Rice, Doug LaFreniere and Randy Malin.

Ada Linenbroker and Wettstein did not support the decision to purchase the less expensive vehicles from a local dealer.

Rice was willing to step up and defend the local company, and even if the money was funneled from the state back to Seward County, each tax dollar counts.

As a whole, the commission should be commended for buying local and for purchasing the less expensive vehicles.

In the need, that is what the CBCC requested, and that is what they received.

Trying to justify additional expense while the region is crawling out of a recession doesn’t make much sense. Not buying local doesn’t make much sense.

Our leaders set the standard for the community through their support, or lack thereof, for local businesses.

If they are not willing to support local businesses, what signal does that send to the rest of the community?

Thankfully, reason and loyalty prevailed, and local business was supported while filling the need of the agency.

The decision by the majority of commissioners was not a repudiation of the CBCC. It was simply the commission fulfilling its role in the process. As long as county commissioners are required to approve expenditures, they have a responsibility in the process to justify them. That may mean over-ruling an occasional decision, but it does not mean replacing the entire CBCC.

The Leader & Times supports the decision of the Seward County Commission and encourages all elected officials to be equally supportive of local businesses.

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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