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Jail project spawns a good idea at last

November 22, 2019 05:35 pm

When a governing body doesn’t know what to do, it forms a committee. And when the governing body really doesn’t know what to do, it appoints a subcommittee.

This old newsroom parable is apocryphal in the case of the Greene County Legislature, which appointed a three-person subcommittee to expedite future jail construction change orders under $7,500.

This could be the smartest action taken by county lawmakers in the entire jail saga.

The Jail Finance Subcommittee was granted the power to authorize change orders less than $7,500 in value.

Legislator Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill, disagreed with the appointment of a subcommittee. “I feel this subcommittee should not have the authority to be spending taxpayer money,” he said. We understand Luvera’s concern, but we disagree with his logic. We believe the subcommittee of Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore and legislators Michael Bulich, R-Catskill, and Gregory Davis, R-Greenville, are staunch fiscal conservatives who won’t allow the expense of any more money than is necessary.

A subcommittee is also preferable to the alternative of holding special Finance Committee meetings when the project needs a change order or a number of small change orders. This will not hold up the project or compel the Legislature to call a special meeting every week.

It’s also preferable to hiring an outside financial consultant or adviser to be on call to make decisions on small change orders.

Finally, taxpayers are being asked to pay for a $47 million jail over 30 years, so a subcommittee consisting of three legislators will work free of charge. And that, at last, is a good thing.