About the county department heads’ retreat … | TheUnion.com

About the county department heads’ retreat …

Thanks to Sue Horne and Christina Dabis for publicly taking a potentially unpopular position on the upcoming junket for Nevada County department heads. To me the fact of the expense is only a part of the outrage. Equally outrageous is the reasoning Mr. Gaebler uses to defend the expense. Quoting from The Union’s article, “So what if it is $30,000? It’s one-hundredth of 1 percent of our budget. It’s a tiny cost.”

The trouble I have with this kind of thinking is not its inaccuracy (actually, it’s 2.4 hundredths of a percent), it’s that it seems to reflect Mr. Gaebler’s cavalier attitude toward my money. Even if an amount is so small as to be considered symbolic, there are still some taxpayers out here who like to think that our government is using our money efficiently.

Mr. Van Zant makes a different statement. Again quoting from The Union article:

“You have to invest to get a return … I’ll invest $30,000 to get back $5 million any day.”

I too would make such an investment. And I won’t even pick nits over the difference between cost savings and return on investment; I’ll just say that I would rather invest less for the same return – especially if I had the privilege of “investing” someone else’s money.

Ms. Horne proposes the Elks Lodge instead of the Forest House Hotel, but there are many acceptable alternatives. Including catered lunches, work materials and facility rental, the purposes of the retreat can be accomplished for $3,000 or less – 10 percent of the proposed figure. This “retreat” lacks the prestige of that proposed. In fact, it’s not even a retreat, it’s a basic, budget-quality offsite meeting. No overnight accommodations, no garden patio, no breakfast or dinner – at 10 percent of the cost.

And while it’s true that I may not envy those who attend this budget-variety offsite meeting, as I might the attendees of its more rarefied relative, I would be much more likely to respect (and re-elect?) those who proposed and planned it.

John Schultheiss

Cedar Ridge

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