Aircraft vote needed more deliberation
We were pleased to see one supervisor stand up for the taxpayers Monday in regard to an airplane for the Yuma County Sheriff's Office.
The aircraft will be replacing the office's current airplane and will serve the same purposes, primarily to transport prisoners to the state prison and sometimes for other operations such as surveillance and search and rescue.
The plane approved by the supervisors Monday is not new. It is a 1976 Cessna Centurion that is has been used by the Southwest Border Alliance as part of its anti-drug efforts. The $100,000 plane is a single engine aircraft, which will be less expensive to operate than the current two-engine plane, according to the sheriff's office. The other plane will be sold.
Whether the plane is needed or not, we do not know. Certainly, the sheriff's office feels it is and most of the supervisors apparently agree since they approved it. Even Supervisor Casey Prochaska, the sole dissenting vote, did not reject the idea out of hand.
But Prochaska was concerned enough to raise a couple of very relevant questions about the airplane deal. She wanted to know how cost-effective owning and maintaining the plane would be and how often it would be used. She wondered if there were other alternatives.
Unfortunately, while sheriff's officials were able to provide some of the needed information, some critical information on operating costs of the plane was unavailable.
We were surprised the other supervisors did not share Prochaska's interest in the cost effectiveness and the need for answers before making a decision. Frankly, without that information it was impossible to make an informed decision.
"We're talking about taxpayers' money here and we have to be very cautious about how we use it," said Prochaska.
We couldn't agree more. It would have been far better for the supervisors to postpone a vote until they had all the information they needed.