We should have our own en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

This is the sec­ond of a se­ries of ed­i­to­ri­als on the forth­com- ing mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion in Novem­ber. This time, we pro­pose that our towns get their own en­gi­neer­ing de­part­ments. Not ev­ery one of them, ob­vi­ously, but that they man­date the MRC’s to form small en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices.

Don’t you think that some­how and too many times we, the tax­pay­ers, are at the mercy of a bunch of –po­lite­ness and li­bel laws oblig­ing- uber in­com­pe­tents?

Case in point. Stanstead will be stuck for years with the bill (what’s a cou­ple of mil­lion?) for the brand new well in Beebe. The rea­son: bright guys from an en­gi­neer­ing firm who ap­plied the then Que­bec stan­dard for ar­senic, while the Amer­i­can ones were al­ready in place, man­dated lower lev­els. We missed the mark by one tenth! Let’s be hon­est, if this was in Chi­bouga­mau who would care? Our wells are less than a cou­ple of yards from the USA and the wa­ter board is called the In­ter­na­tional Wa­ter com­pany, which sup­plies wa­ter to both Que­bec and Ver­mont! Then again, who cares? No­body, it seems. The same highly qual­i­fied firms (hard to keep track of their name and own­er­ship changes) still will get con­tracts with Stanstead and other towns.

Now in the real world, the one where peo­ple usu­ally only have one type of money, their own, firms like this would be placed on the for­ever never to do busi­ness with them again.

But this is an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent world, with tons of money. Lack some, print some. Or print a higher amount on the tax bill at lower lev­els of govern­ment. The tax­payer doesn’t care, well he does, but he doesn’t have a choice. It’s pay or noth­ing else.

Would a pub­licly owned en­gi­neer­ing ser­vice have pre­vented this mess? As we pay our taxes for use­less wells, we’ll never know. But it should have given no­tice to the en­gi­neer­ing firms that some­body as com­pe­tent as they are was watch­ing the money flow down the drain, not even lit­er­ally!

Small con­tracts could be sourced in-house; there is enough work to keep a cou­ple of engi­neers work­ing year round. They could even tackle big­ger work, hir­ing ex­tra help to give a hand once in a while.

The once in a while is the im­por­tant part. If all work was to be done by civil ser­vants, it doesn’t take a rocket sci­en­tist (or an en­gi­neer con­fess­ing to Judge Charbonneau) to fig­ure out the end re­sult. If there is one thing that civil ser­vants soon for­get, it is how to spend money. Or rather how to spend it, de­pends on the point of view, tax­pay­ers be­ing blind, as is well known. Only the blind can­not see how money can dis­ap­pear so fast, the great­est mag­i­cal act on earth: Taxes go­ing up in smoke or down use­less wells!

But the main way that we will save money if we have our engi­neers work­ing for us, is that they will not take for granted what the pri­vate firms will pro­pose. This should save more than what they would cost.

We ask you to raise this is­sue with the can­di­dates in the next elec­tion.

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