Four members, including the chairman and vice chair, of the Gallatin County capital improvements committee resigned recently over what they termed a lack of communication and planning on the part of county commissioners on major projects – the very issue the committee was formed to address.

The resignations are the latest of what can be viewed as a certain level of disfunction in county government. Commissioner Don Seifert said he was disappointed by the resignations and wished the disgruntled committee members had requested a meeting to discuss their concerns. But resigning committee member Robert Lee said the grievances were brought to commissioners’ attention repeatedly and cited meeting minutes indicating so.

Regardless, the resignations may be a symptom of a larger issue: a lack of appropriate planning at the county level – and not just on capital improvements. Land-use planning could use much more emphasis, as well.

The commissioners haven’t decided whether to appoint new members to the committee or just disband it. But that could be perilously shortsighted.

The county has one major capital improvement in the offing. Commissioners plan to ask voters to approve a mega-bond issue in November to finance 120,000-square-foot replacement for the current Law and Justice Center. The capital improvements committee mission was expanded recently to include raising public awareness of county capital improvement projects. It’s July now and the election is just four months away. The commissioners are going to need all the help they can get selling the new justice facility to property tax-weary voters.

One of the resigning committee members said in his resignation letter, “Future costs are mounting and you have no savings plan to defer the cost other than significant tax increases.”

He raises a valid point. The county’s population is ballooning and there will be significant negative impacts from that growth without adequate planning. As a community, we cannot sit on our hands.

Commissioners would be wise to appoint replacements to the capital improvement committee and then start using the experience of those panel members.


Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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