OUR VIEW: Studies important to making city decisionsA single study could keep city officials from making an uninformed decision that could cost the taxpayers much more than the cost of the study itself.
The city of Mitchell is on the hook for about $120,000 for various studies it has authorized in recent months.
Among those studies: A $115,000 study to suggest a proposal to expand and renovate the Corn Palace. Of that price tag, the city was responsible for about $85,000, with the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce picking up the remainder of the tab. A $15,000 feasibility study to determine if the current city library can be renovated or relocated. A $10,000 study to determine if a building can be reconfigured to house City Hall. A $10,000 study that considers expanding the Recreation Center.
Overall, the combined four studies cost more than $150,000, but, as mentioned, some of the costs were shared by other entities.
To the average Joe, $120,000 for four studies is a big amount. But we hesitate to say it’s too much, since even a single study could keep city officials from making an uninformed decision that could cost the taxpayers much more than the cost of the study itself.
With the Corn Palace study, it was needed, and it’s good that the cost was offset by money from the Chamber of Commerce. The resulting Palace blueprint isn’t perfect, nor did it generate widespread support, but that was to be expected.
We don’t consider the other studies exorbitant, although we certainly hope much forethought is used prior to such studies being authorized.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, and sometimes, it may take a $10,000 study to help ensure that local taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for an idea that isn’t based upon solid groundwork.
Eventually, of course, there will be a time for decisions, and possibly difficult ones. Our public officials must confront those decisions head-on. If they don’t, the studies could then become a waste of time and money.
The shelves at City Hall and even some of our shelves here at The Daily Republic are littered with old public facility studies that went nowhere, either because of lost momentum or unwillingness on the part of public officials to take on the tough decisions that arose from those studies. That’s unhealthy.
Of course, some of those studies were shot down by public bodies or voters, and that’s OK, because at least the studies were discussed and formally considered.
We hope this recent batch of studies will end with an accompanying batch of decisions made after healthy discussions. If that happens, none of the money spent on the studies will have been wasted. If the studies simply fade into the past without a formal endorsement or rejection, we’ll feel differently.