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Thursday, May 6, 2010

The $1.5 million dollar question

Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end), the name of the mounted courtesy company that you know by the red uniformed guards on horses in Town Center. Each hour for one mounted horse costs the tax payers $39.10. When you go pet a horse and talk to a trooper, you can now appreciate its cost. When you pay your taxes, you can say, thank you Township Board of Directors for the opportunity to pet a horse. One day, I went to Walmart and thought, wow! Walmart is upgrading their services to mounted police. Not so! Not police even. The Township is paying for it - part of Zone 9. In certain areas, like Green Park or along the waterway, this is a nice amenity for families, visiting or residents,  but we need to ask ourselves, how much money do these mounted help service people draw?  How useful are they? Your will get rhetoric. Yes, they count the number of times they talk to people. That is because they are there.

I believe in spending money judiciously. That money could buy a number of policemen patrolling our streets. It might be used to replace a few trees that were torn down during the development of our new communities. It could also be returned to the taxpayers. Normally commercial interests would pay for such patrol amenities, not residents. Commercial interests deal with security. Taxpayers are not responsible for mall or large commercial enterprise security. This seems way over done to me, doesn't it to you also? I would be cutting back on this service and using it only for a novelty in select locations for tourism. For a start, how about a $200,000 budget instead of a $1.5 million one? 

We have a three-year agreement with Alpha and Omega. Our government chose them as a supplier using a point system to evaluate their services and company. The high bidder won out; there was about a $150,000 difference between the bids. Provisions in the three-year contract allow it to be canceled or renegotiated.  A board member stated once, "You sir would just let contracts to the low bidder." I certainly would if I thought the company could do the job to my satisfaction. It does not have to be the best in class. I would be spending but saving taxpayer money. In decades of working for a corporation, I sometimes chose the low bid and sometimes a higher one. A methodology could determine the winner, but often I found the systematic selection criteria fairly trite and unreliable, but went along with them anyway.
Is the1.5 million dollar question part of what Dr Robb was referring to when he said in his letter to the editor on April 14th, 2010? -  
"Some of the results I’m most proud of include:
6. Bringing Market Street and Waterway Square from an idea to reality"

The development company brought the idea to reality, but the amenities came from TCID, now The Woodlands Township.  Not all board members voted YES for this contract, but Dr Robb did by being absent! This was one of the motions he relegated to the others in his 37% absenteeism. I would have voted NO to this amount and to the extent of service proposed. Does he know that he is spending your money? Where is the return on the investment? I grant you, it is a novelty for visitors, providing a better experience and some million dollar photo opportunities.

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