Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Graham, NC 27253
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ACC Van Winkle

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Readers of this newspaper may wonder if they fell asleep recently like Rip Van Winkle of old – or, perhaps, whether ACC officials did.

In the Washington Irving classic, Van Winkle falls asleep for 20 years, but the local version only takes a month or so to demonstrate the same change in setting and circumstances that old Rip faced centuries ago after snoozing for what turned out to be two decades.

Recall that it was just a few weeks ago that ACC officials were at the county commissioners’ meeting begging and pleading for the commissioners to designate more money to them, which they said would be used to complete the ambitious list of projects that they had promised voters they would fund with $36.9 million in bond proceeds that they’re already scheduled to receive from a 2018 bond referendum that the county’s voters approved.

The commissioners were generous, in our view, and agreed to fund some, but not all, of ACC’s supposed cost overruns for its bond projects.

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ACC’s folks went away disappointed and moaning about what they wouldn’t be able to accomplish because of those skinflint commissioners.

Fast forward to last week.

Lo and behold, these same ACC officials are now looking for ways to spend a windfall of $7.9 million that they’re about to get from a new pot of state money.

So, dear reader, you may logically think ACC would, of course, decide to use some of this newfound largesse to make up for the shortfall over which they made such a scene to commissioners.

No.  You’d be wrong.

Instead, ACC officials have decided to squander $35,200 in county funds to study  how they should spend this newfound state money over each of the next four fiscal years.

These are new projects, not the ones that were already supposed to be funded by the bond referendum.

Which makes us wonder: weren’t the original projects, that they said they needed the extra county money for, important?

They said they were important – vital, even.

But when the opportunity arises – with some fresh, new money – they’re already looking for new ways to spend it.

Which makes us doubt very strongly whether what comes of the feasibility study will actually be important enough to spend any pot of money on – whether state or local.

And which adds to our longstanding view that there simply isn’t enough money, ever, to fulfill some government officials’ wish lists.

We’re not sure whether ACC officials are suffering from amnesia, or hoping the taxpayers are, but this is crazy budgeting.

Oh, one more thing: ACC’s trustees unanimously voted to spend $94,368 for construction of a roof on a “grass observation deck” – which we prefer to call, more descriptively, an observation deck to nowhere.

ACC’S OBSERVATION DECK TO NOWHERE WILL GET A $94,368 ROOF, WE KID YOU NOT

Now why that “observation deck” to observe a grassy meadow (we think it’s wetlands) is a worthwhile expenditure, we couldn’t tell you.

It’s just one more example where ACC could have diverted money for actual needs rather than frivolous ones.

We hope they enjoy the view.

In the Rip Van Winkle story, he could at least attribute his long, 20-year nap to bad liquor that he was served by visitors.

We’re not quite sure to what to attribute ACC’s gap in consciousness, but we can’t think of any defensible answers.

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