The Sunflower County Board of Supervisors got into the Christmas spirit this past Monday, and you better believe Santa is going to be doing a double take when he checks their wish list in a couple of weeks.
The board voted 3-2 during Monday’s meeting to advertise for brand new vehicles for each of the five supervisors, at the taxpayers’ expense of course.
Each vehicle, depending on if the county purchased them used or new, would cost between $31,000 and $37,000. That’s potentially $185,000.
Board President Glenn Donald, District 4 Supervisor Anthony Clark and District 2 Supervisor Riley Rice voted in favor of the motion, while District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickerson and outgoing District 3 Supervisor Dennis Holmes voted nay.
It’s worth noting that each of the three who motioned, seconded and voted in favor of the new vehicles won reelection less than a month ago.
Before picking up the phone and giving an earful to the three that voted yes, know that there are two sides to this that were fleshed out after the board had voted on Monday morning.
Rice was the first to speak up, explaining his vote.
He was quite candid about the retirement income he receives every month. Because Rice cannot legally receive a salary for his duties as supervisor, he’s limited to his retirement, which is not a lot, according to what he told those in attendance.
Riding the district’s roads on a regular basis does cost money, and in the past, according to Donald, the state had a more favorable reimbursement plan when it came to itemized tax deductions at the end of the year.
The state has apparently cracked down on those deductions, and it has put the reimbursement burden squarely on the county.
Dickerson offered the counterpoint that the county does reimburse mileage each month.
While this may not be as sweet of a deal as the itemized deductions, we agree with Dickerson that for Sunflower County’s current situation with infrastructure and other needs, mileage reimbursement should do for now.
As for the vehicles, Donald pointed out that there was only about a $6,000 difference between buying one used with 70,000 to 80,000 miles on it versus a new one.
It’s safe to say that no member of the current board is going to receive coal in their stocking this year regarding their job performance. This board has indeed done an adequate job of handling the county’s business.
But there are far too many poorly graded roads and far too many craters in the pavement county-wide for this plan to ever get out of first gear.
There’s nothing wrong with the county supervisors getting back what they put into riding their districts in their personal vehicles, but going through with this plan would be a really bad look at a time when county roads and bridges are still at a crisis point. Each person that ran for office this past year did so knowing that the pay is limited and that it does not come with a furnished vehicle.
We all dream of the day when Sunflower County will prosper to the point that we can provide vehicles to elected officials, but that is far from reality, and like the thousands of taxpayers across the five districts are forced to do each Christmas, we encourage the supervisors to make do with what they have and honor their pledges to serve the citizens of this county with fiscal responsibility.