Friday, January 9, 2009

Knowledge and experience do count

The Intelligencer Journal reports on Jan. 9 that bids for the upgrade of Washington Elementary School "came in 22 percent under budget as a result of stiff competition among contractors hurting for work in the foundering economy."

Unfortunately, novice trustees of the Lancaster Public Library last fall voted not to proceed with a $2.3 million renovation of the Lancaster Public Library on Duke Street, and in doing so, forfeited $1.6 million in funding which had been secured for this purpose. They were worried that the balance of the funds could not be raised, and gave no credence to builder developer Robert Field's (NewsLanc's publisher, who was acting as Project Manager) assertation that total cost would likely come in a couple of hundred thousand dollars below the $2.3 million estimate due to the adverse times. Field also foresaw that mass infrastructure funding from federal government grants would likely become available to fund the delayed expansion stage, if they would just move ahead with the first stage. This wasn't prescience; this was simply fifty years of business experience!

When a board is largely made up of people of little relevant qualifications, they have no basis for making important decisions. There is a lack of knowledge and experience to counter fears. They are unable to distinguish good from bad advice.

All the more reason for following the path of counties throughout the nation of consolidating the independent Library System and the fifteen separate libraries under a countywide authority, with a board of trustees drawn from a cross section of experienced and qualified leaders.