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It's imperative we plan for the future

Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson writes a weekly informational article


No matter what the outcome of the vote is on Tuesday, May 20, it is clear that things cannot remain as they are within the criminal justice system in our county. Whether or not the citizens pass a temporary measure to fund our jail for the next three years, I think it is imperative for us to begin immediately to plan for the future.

Even if we are able to keep the jail open this year (if there were to be the passage of Measure 5-238) we cannot continue with business as usual, but must plan now for a future where scarce resources continue to threaten our ability to provide adequate public safety in our county.

Collectively as a community, we need to think about what the priorities are for the future and start heading in that direction. Given the fact that we have limited resources, how do we make sure that the most important services are adequately funded?

These things have been talked about before, but have always fallen flat—not because the citizens thought it was a bad idea, necessarily, but because there are so many competing voices as to how to execute such a plan. Necessity, however, is said to be the mother of invention.

It is time to think outside of the proverbial “box” and find a way to think smarter; to develop a new way to get things done that makes the most of the tax dollars contributed from the hard-working people in this county. We talk about economic development in our county that is long overdue, and we insist that this development must be sustainable over time. I heartily agree with that sentiment. I think we should have the same goal for local government with a plan that is economically feasible and sustainable.

Government is not like the private sector. It is not supposed to be a profit-oriented enterprise. Still, that should not deter us from doing everything in our power to make it a value-oriented enterprise for the people we serve.