Editorial: There was no easy way out on courthouse

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 18, 2002

It was a no-win situation if there ever was one.

Freeborn County’s courthouse situation is not pretty, and neither were the process that got the job done or the debate that surrounded it. When two people attending the county board meeting can end up in a near-fistfight after the decision was made &045; which happened Tuesday &045; it’s obvious that emotions are running high. Indeed, much is at stake.

It’s no easy thing to spend millions of dollars, and it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. And it’s not hard to understand the pleas of taxpayers who don’t want the added burden &045; especially farmers, who will have their land taxed to pay off the form of bonds the county board authorized Tuesday.

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The consequences of the board’s decision are plain to see and easy to measure: Taxes will go up by &uot;x&uot; amount for &uot;x&uot; property. That makes it easy for people to criticize it. The effect of not acting, however, is harder to measure and therefore harder to fear. It would, however, be as formidable if not more so. The cost of waiting longer on jail security and courtroom saftey may well be another escape attempt from the jail, or an injury or even human life lost in an insecure court complex. In dollars and cents, the cost of waiting could also be significant, with interest rates not likely to stay this low forever, and inflation continually pushing up the cost of construction. And we must also consider the savings from added efficiency in more modern buildings.

The county board made a decision that was not popular among many residents; it was even unpopular with two of the five board members. To suggest the three members in favor of the courthouse plan came to their decision lightly implies they don’t take their jobs very seriously, and we don’t believe that is true. They studied, discussed, pondered and made a hard decision that some people don’t like. They did what they consider to be best for the county, and that’s what we should expect from our leaders.