Some things just look too good

Hindsight is 20/20.

President Obama said that when the solar company Solyndra declared bankruptcy after receiving half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

It may be what some Ramona water board members are thinking after learning that a county lien could jeopardize plans for a solar project at the San Vicente sewer treatment plant. The district paid a $10,000 refundable fee to get the project off the ground. The problem is, unless the project is finished at a certain time, the district loses the $10,000.

It sounded great when the district’s attorney presented the idea to the board. A private firm would build the project, the district would pay less for electricity for the next 20 years, and it would get the public’s $10,000 back.

Based on conversation at a recent board meeting, all’s going well with the Santa Maria plant’s solar project. The district fronted $15,000 for that, and, unless something unforeseen happens, Santa Maria solar will be finished on time and the district will see its $15,000 again.

Just as a former school board didn’t foresee reduced student enrollment and a depressed economy when it borrowed $25 million to get state matching funds for school improvements, the water board didn’t know a county lien could put a wrench in the project. In fact, they didn’t know there

was

a county lien.

In hindsight, rather than hop at the carrot when someone says if you don’t act now you won’t get as good a deal, we encourage district directors to be a bit more cynical when it comes to laying out public dollars.

We’re not suggesting public officials play Chicken Little, but we ask that they research proposals as carefully — even more carefully, since it’s not their money — as they would if they were spending their own money.

Maureen Robertson

Editor

   
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