Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Smaller Government" - or a County Truck Wash?

Remember way back in July, when I had blogged about Atlantic Highlands trying to build a municipal car wash at a cost of $1 Million? (Of course you don't remember, click the link).  Well, following up yesterday's blog entry, where I said that Republicans, who claim things like "small government" or "helping small business" need to start stepping up on a local level, I found a perfect example in today's Worst News Paper Ever. The article, Freeholders expected to OK "green" truck wash (which of course appears 3 times: here, here and here maybe the APP should fix that) notes that the [Republican Controlled] county Freeholders  are looking to spend  $687,000 to build a brand new Truck Wash for county vehicles to comply with new state regulations. The County Truck wash idea seems to come from freeholder John D'Amico(D).

Now, I'm just an Average No One, so I obviously don't know squat, but let me list my concerns...

1) In Atlantic Highlands, a car wash costs $1 Million.  In Monmouth County/Tinton Falls, a car wash "only" costs $687,000. Which administration doesn't have the right number? Are the freeholders sure that they can buy the land, and build a new car wash for $687K? Do the "locals"know about this coming truck wash? I'm sure someone *thinks* that they have some say in how the private property owned by someone else is used and will complain about the (noise || odor || traffic || "environmental impact" || crime) from the new truck wash. Sounds like an expensive legal battle is coming soon, that we'll also pay for through our taxes.

2) How many car washes already exist in this county? Let suppose that there are 50 of them, all meeting whatever DEP/State regulations are required of them. Let's then suppose that the county doesn't really *NEED* to bring it's vehicles to just any of the 50 and the Freeholders choose 10 "approved for our use" facilities well distributed throughout the county so that no additional driving/gas is needed just to go wash a vehicle and return back to wherever. How much does $687K "granted" to 10 small businesses ($68.7K each) for "capital improvements" help stimulate the economy? What does the accepting small business offer in exchange? FREE car washes to municipal vehicles of course... Suppose $30 per wash, the $68.7K pays for 2290 washes. That means that 6 municipal vehicles per day could be cleaned EVERY DAY for a year as a fair exchange at 10 different locations, or 60 vehicles per day could be cleaned. Now remember it's really "about" 242 working days per year, which means closer to 10 washes per day over 10 locations, or 100 vehicles per day. How many vehicles per day do we need washed anyhow? Is this new $687K facility going to be largely unused? I don't imagine we need to pay for/build a $687K facility that is utilized 2% of the time.

3) Now, being more realistic and "fair" to small businesses, then the freeholders don't work out some "free" exchange, but a discounted/tax credit rate. There would obviously be some cost associated with the operation of a truck wash so some of that operating cost can be used to pay for the needed washes. Also, using an existing small business does a few more things.  First, a small business has increased demand from the county which hopefully more employs are needed, and thus some more jobs. Second, there are less county/municipal workers on the payroll. How many county/state employees does a "green" truck wash require? Those employees are sure to get all of the holiday's off (as I noted yesterday), sure to get some kind of benefits package, some kind of retirement, etc, etc, etc. And finally, how many county employees are being paid to put their feet up and sitting around doing nothing since they'll work 9-5 (or less) but I don't imagine they will be cleaning trucks for 8 hours straight, non-stop. And who pays for the water, electric, gas, sewers, etc of a new county owned facility? Right.

4) Let's suppose the county DOES NOT build a facility of it's own AND does not "grant" any money to any private business. Then, $687K pays for 22,900 $30 car washes! At our 242 working days per year, that means we can wash *95* vehicles EVERY day for a year and break even. Are we really washing 95 vehicles? Are we really NEEDING to wash them every day? OR...Does a car wash really cost $30, or is really $12.95 and I'm being generous? I think I've seen a few $4.xx signs for that matter but I wash my own car, on my own private property, where I pay for the water, electric, gas, sewers myself so how do I know what a car wash costs...

Perhaps there is some great reasoning for a county owned truck wash facility that I just don't understand or can't think of this morning, but I have to say, I don't think expanding the size of county government to include a car wash and it's employees falls under the "conservative", "small business" or "pro-small business" categories. This truck wash plan is, as I said yesterday, a "tax and spend" plan - tax the county more to spend money on a truck wash, then tax the people some more to pay for the operation of the truck wash. It "works" in the sense that "wealth" is distributed, the government provides the jobs for a small cost, and this is the "line" that every Democrat runs on, and comes through on. This rather than the "republican line" of spend less money, promote small business and reduce the size of government - and spending money on a truck wash doesn't quite fit the "republican line". Remind the voters again why they should vote R so that the R party can go tax and spend like the D party.

As I said, MAYBE, just maybe, there are good reasons for Republicans to support this spending, I'm not able to think of one because I'm a delusional, cheap Average No One. It might sound like a "tough" or "extreme" position, or at least a "different" position to take, but then it's at least a position that offers a "change" from the usual "tax and spend" position that the Ds run on. Lead by example, or something. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To your response on why build a truck wash... is simple. Beginning March 1st 2009, the new NJDEPs stormwater regulations go into affect which state that no wash water may be discharged into waters of the state. So beginning March 1st 2009 any municipality found in violation will be fined costing $$$. So in response some local municipalites are building "regional" vehicle wash facilities that will be open to not only there own fleet vehicles but also surrounding municipalities. The vehicle wash will end up being a source of revenue for the county. Normal car washes that you state are all over cannot and will not accept most of the vehicles that the municipal washes are being designed for. Trash trucks and salt trucks just to name a few are a large user of this facilities. So building a regional wash facility is not only done to comply with regulations but is also a source of revenue and a way to save money in the long run for governments. Trash trucks from private haulers (WM) will also have to comply and at about $30 a wash that payback on the construction cost can be very short. Keeping these vehicles clean also increases the life span of them which also in the long run saves $$$. Also washing cars at home is a huge WASTE of water. Vehicle washes use up to 80% less water since most are high pressure systems that also reclaim up to 80% of the water used.