Less talk and more planning
The issues are real and they aren’t going away.
Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen has decided to refocus his budget recommendations for Rutherford County Schools and Isothermal Community College to that of capital needs.
On Friday, Classen announced he was changing his recommendations to remove any plans for maintenance examination at Isothermal.
That is a step in the right direction.
We did not agree with Classen’s initial recommendations proposed last week that included studying bringing Isothermal’s maintenance under the county’s umbrella.
That takes the focus off the bigger needs at the college.
A study indicating nearly $10 million of capital needs just to keep the college’s operations going should be the primary focus of this year — and the future — is county budget allocations.
The responsibility falls to the Rutherford County Commission to not only know what needs are immediate for facilities they are responsible for but to ensure taxpayer money is being spent where it is supposed to be spent.
The college Board of Trustees have presented commissioners with facility needs studies regularly as recently as 2008 when nearly $9 million of capital outlay was discovered.
Yet, nothing was done about it and the needs only became a focal point of discussion with commissioners six years later.
Even if there was no money in the county coffers to fund a complete overhaul of campus buildings — and we know there isn’t any — the time to discuss plans for fixing the problem should have happened in 2008 or when the commission makeup changed in 2010.
Commissioners are responsible for being stewards of the taxpayer’s money but they are also responsible to know the maintenance and capital needs of the college and schools. The rules of leadership would suggest that would go a step further and discuss and plan ways to address those needs.
It is easy to side-step the situation and fall back on the assertion that there is just no money available but real leadership doesn’t put the problems on the back burner in the hopes of better economic times.
The schools and college are used as economic drivers for Rutherford County but that usage dwindles with aging facilities.
If commissioners really believe a plan needs to be put in place to address capital needs of the schools and Isothermal, then do it.
These needs are just going to get more expensive the longer they are left.
We can’t afford to let that happen.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.