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County continues to carelessly spend on trails

To the Editor:
One would think that the county taxpayers would have spent enough on paving trails the past five years based on expenditures and purposes outlined below:
• $500,000 — In 2012, the county commissioners approved spending $500,000 for paving the Luce Line trail.
• $750,000 — Hutchinson separately contributed another $750,000 for paving the Luce Line.
• $15,000 — In 2013, three county commissioners voted to spend $15,000 to create a McLeod County trail plan.
• $1.8 million — In 2016, three county commissioners voted to obligate the county for 20 years of maintenance costs in order to apply for “free” Legacy grant funding. These unfavorable terms create a current debt value obligation of $1.8 million to McLeod County taxpayers ($100,000 per mile) for Legacy grant participation for the full line.
• $33,000 — In 2016, we learned McLeod County was obligated for an additional $33,000 cost to get the “free” Legacy grant.
• $8,000 — In 2017, three county commissioners voted to spend this for one-time mowing of Luce Line after the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) failed to maintain this DNR-managed trail.
• $50,000 — In 2017, three county commissioners voted to spend this to get a better estimate before applying for the next “free money” Legacy grant, likely later in 2018.
• $19,050 — February 2018, three county commissioners decided to design a bridge over the Otter Creek crossing on the Dakota Rail Trail.
Many times, commissioners justifiably blame state mandates for spending. This is not the case for McLeod trail spending. Indeed, while commissioners are transferring maintenance costs for the frontage road south of Highway 7 back to Hutchinson Township (because the county cannot afford to maintain that paved road), they are instead spending more and more on paving trails. It is all about choices for discretionary spending of taxpayer dollars.
Unfortunately, three free-spending commissioners seem to insist that even more county tax money needs to be spent on trails, this time for an engineering study on an unplanned bridge, as per The McLeod County Chronicle Feb. 21, 2018.
County residents concerned with spending are asking:
• Why wasn’t this Otter Creek crossing issue brought first to the McLeod County Trail Committee? What was the reason to rush action on this and bypass the trail committee?
• Why wasn’t a bridge requested in the original request for Legacy grant money?
• Why doesn’t the McLeod Dakota Rail Authority not contribute at all to the Dakota Rail expenses, considering the hundreds of thousands of dollars it collected in rent along this trail route?
• Why aren’t there any contributions from businesses or individuals to show financial support for paved trails?
• Why isn’t there a county commissioner on the board of the McLeod Dakota Rail Authority to replace retired Sheldon Nies, in consideration of the millions of dollars that the county is directing to the Dakota Trail?
James Bobier
Acoma Township