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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Kirby Delauter

(3/2012) As many of you know, I am a fiscal conservative. I take the responsibility of spending your money very seriously. As you may have heard, a few weeks ago the County Department of Utilities and Solid Waste Management (DUSWM ) came before the BoCC with a request to purchase a sanitary sewer camera truck. I researched this purchase request extensively prior to the meeting and, being in the construction industry, I know a thing or two about sewer and water issues and capital expenditures.

This item was placed on what is called the "consent agenda". The consent agenda is just what it sounds like: the sanitary sewer camera truck has the consent of the department head as an approved purchase. Items on the consent agenda are not reviewed by the BoCC unless we see something in the agenda that sparks an interest. I review all consent agendas mainly because I have found few of them where I donít find something that catches my eye.

This purchase totals $360,000.00, a substantial amount of your money. When I saw this, I went to work researching and using my own construction experience to justify this new asset. What I discovered is that the County already owns a sewer camera truck. The existing unit is 16 years old and has only 26,000 miles (or 900 hours) on it. This amounts to 1625 miles per year, or 56.25 hours per year. Yes, this unit was utilized just over an hour per week. Now, it doesn't take a Harvard graduate to do the math equation and come to the conclusion that the purchase of a sewer camera truck is ridiculous. I personally wouldn't buy a used car that I would only drive 1625 miles per year.

We discussed the purchase in an open meeting (you can go to the county website and watch it for yourself) and I became annoyed by staff members' repeated attempts to justify this purchase. At one point, I was interrupted by a staff member and the discussion took a turn for the worst. I walked out of the meeting because I was likely to start saying things that are not appropriate in a public forum. I find it better to leave the discussion and cool off rather than have the discussion escalate to an unprofessional level. I was wrong for letting the discussion get to that point, and will try to keep a professional demeanor in the future. The staff member felt as strongly for the purchase as I felt against the purchase. He is a good County employee and I respect his views, but we just agreed to disagree. I treat all County employees with respect and I expect the same in return.

We instructed staff to do some research on subcontracting this work to a private sector firm. We have 500,000 to 1 Million linear feet of sewer lines to televise over the next year and it is an ongoing process, so placing this item out to bid on the open market just made sense. In my opinion, the numbers will prove my case. The County would be about $2 - $3 per linear foot to do this work, where a private company will be $0.90 - $1.00 per linear foot. A private sector company will televise 3,000 - 4,000 linear feet per day, whereas the County has historically done less than 1,000 linear feet per day. Last year, the County televised 12,000 linear feet, which comes out to 32 linear feet per day. Having this information, it was an easy decision to subcontract this work, thus saving the taxpayer (you) $360,000 along with future maintenance, fuel, repairs, insurance and all other soft costs that go with a purchase. My next question will be if we're not purchasing the truck, do we need the four employees that were supposed to operate it? Would any of you out there keep four employees on the payroll if your business dropped off? Would the Ott House keep four additional waitresses if their business dropped off? Would Insurance Brokers of MD keep four additional employees if their insurance business dropped off? The answer is no, not because they're heartless, it is just simple economics.

I ran for office not because I wanted something to do, I have plenty of things to occupy my time. Rather, I ran for office because I want to do something. You elected me to office in an oppressive, bloated county government. Frederick County government grew by 80% from 2000 - 2010, while the county population grew by only 20%. When we took office just over a year ago, we inherited a $30 million dollar deficit; we were told there is no money for new schools, renovations, or systemic repairs. We were told that there are no funds available for OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits), while the County government was somehow a well- oiled machine.

It was all nonsense. We have no money in government to spend on items like schools and core functions because, for the last 40 years, our government at all levels has been incrementally letting staffers and bureaucrats build fiefdoms with never-ending regulations, rather than focusing on basic core services. We were busy hiring directors for the Office of Sustainability-- who are paid twice the rate of the median county income-- so they could tell us what light bulbs to use and spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to install automatic light switches in County buildings, because we canít manually turn the switch to "off" when we leave a room. More nonsense that does nothing but increase government while producing no real benefit. The last board was too busy playing footsie with the Agenda 21 establishment rather than looking out for the County taxpayer. We are paying plenty in taxes; we just need to focus our spending. As I said in our campaign, we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Once again, it doesn't take a Harvard mathematician to understand that these equations do not pass the straight face test.

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