Analyzing the Analysis

Our Fairfield County government has recently posted on its website a most revealing Council performance summary. The Tax and Services Analysis provides even more evidence of Council’s miserable history of mismanagement. In fact, this report could have been titled “An expose of Council’s big spending and mismanagement.” Please carefully review this insightful report prior to voting on Nov. 4.

Be forewarned, the foundation for the conclusions in this “study” is based on the false premise that more spending automatically equals more service. That premise is, of course, just bunk, but it is the only way to present Council in a positive (but false) light .

I believe the aforementioned report has established a new low for incredulous conclusions but does contain many facts that point to the need for a Council makeover come Nov. 4.

This report seemingly ignored the best accepted practices of good analytics, thus, produced misleading conclusions. Any useful analysis supports its conclusions with documented research and universally accepted paradigms. Additionally, cause and effect relationships should be used as conduits leading to unshakeable conclusions. Few of the conclusions in the aforementioned study were grounded in reality nor were they supported by any documentation. The study, thus, served to remind us all just how blind the Council is to the reality of their own poor stewardship of taxpayers money.

The points below highlight some of the most egregiously flawed conclusions:

• The report’s oft-repeated conclusion that more spending automatically equals better service is, again, just bunk. Fairfield’s General Fund Budget per capita is 90 percent higher than its 18 rural peers’ average. This high roller spending has not translated into an improved quality of life as the report’s authors would have us believe. In fact, the abnormal government spending has only manifesting increased inefficiency and waste but not better services. The last two (2012 and 2014) Fairfield Citizens Needs Assessment Surveys have not been addressed by Council nor are they posted for citizen review. The surveys’ results apparently were so bad they are still hidden from public view. The 2012 survey was posted for a short while and revealed only two of the county’s service areas were rated “good.” In addition, most of the third party ratings place Fairfield in the lower half of service rankings despite the excess spending. Why did the report’s authors paint a different service picture without offering any documentation to support their wild theory more spending equates to improved services? Propagandists never answer these kind of questions.

• The contention more employees on the taxpayers’ payroll equal better service is another unfounded and unsupported theme of this paper. This contention is, again, unsupported with any proof from the authors. Who really thinks our services are 90 percent better than our peer counties?

• One of the more absurd contentions included in the study is Fairfield County has a full recreational program. Nothing could be further from reality. Fairfield county ranks 40th among all South Carolina counties in accessible exercise facilities. This ranking by the Robert Woods Foundation is certainly not a reflection of a full and robust recreational program. Further, to demonstrate their willingness to spend without any useful purpose, the Fairfield Recreation Department built an ill-conceived football field at a cost of over $300,000. Nearly a year later, the field is still not safe and is not usable. A decade ago the now disbanded Recreation Commission purchased a $100,000 rec building, which the County promptly mothballed (forever) in storage. How could the report’s authors have equated these wasteful expenditures with good service? These are just a couple of the many examples where this county’s excess spending has only manifested waste. Too bad the authors were so obviously short on research capabilities ,thus, inhibiting their ability to assemble a meaningful analysis.

• The report, also, states “other county’s” detention centers are inferior to ours. The report, again, leaves out any documented details. We are left to wonder which other county’s detention centers are worse than ours and how is that contention supported! The report ,again, tried to create conclusions without facts.

• The report also misses the point several of the peer counties have increased taxes fur to added fees to supply water. That would be one expense most of Fairfield would prefer. Both the Council and the report clearly failed the citizens in the water category.

• Yes, we do have a few services not found in all rural counties. These services comprise a small portion of the budget and certainly come nowhere near justifying s 90 percent budget increase over our peers.

Indeed this whole analysis is one big leap of faith. Who can have any faith in an analysis which proclaims spending equates to good service when the facts do not back the conclusions? In reality the aforementioned Robert Woods Johnson county quality of life ratings and the citizens surveys offer a complete factual rebuke of this report’s misleading conclusions that big spending equates to good services.

The facts do prove Council spends a lot more than its peers and the facts do prove the Council fails to delivery commensurate services. Coupling the high spending with wanting services is not what this county deserves. We are thankful for a report that highlights the plethora of reasons to vote for the challengers to the Council incumbents and their good old boy surrogate.

I do not think I have ever reviewed a report so informative yet so flawed in its conclusions. Sticking to the facts will yield a most insightful voting guide which reveals Council as big spenders who waste so much money. Our county deserves better.

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