Bo says it will be a long time before good times return

With the changes of the guard in Douglas County, county commissioners being guardians of the county's purse strings of those collective purses filled by periodic raids on our taxpayer purses, I thought it timely to consult with old friend Bo the Builder for his wise perspective of the new guardians and the challenges they couldn't have guessed they would face when they tossed their hats in the campaign ring way back last spring. It's always best to catch Bo over his first morning cup of coffee.

"Happy New Year," Bo greeted me, "seems like a century since election campaigns started, considering the economic calamities since then. Aren't you glad you didn't run for county commission?"

"You can say that again," I replied. "Who could relish fixing their budget challenges? I trust you're enjoying your free time with your building business in hibernation. What are you up to?"

"Heck, I'm a builder," Bo said.

"Building what?" I asked.

"Toy houses for grandkids," Bo grinned impishly, "until bailout money comes our way so we can overbuild some more buildings. What's your take on the new commissioners?"

"Knew you'd ask that," I laughed, "and being somewhat opinionated, not to mention biased, I'll give my best diplomatic reply. This commission won't have much opportunity to concede more county moolah to developers. Past commissions assumed never-ending development would cover up their impairment of future revenues to pay obligations like the Muller bypass. They even started thinking of building permit fees as general revenue instead of payment for services rendered. Now it's ended. This commission is saddled with matching falling revenues to meet essential county services and past obligations. Maybe the business experience of the new members is the right talent for the right situation. Not that that's what they bargained for, I think."

"You wouldn't be referring to that $24.7 million subsidy for north county business development we both harangued, would you?" Bo smirked.

"It didn't go away. Looks like that developer will qualify to receive the first $200,000 installment this year. With no increased sales tax to pay for it."

"I heard all five commissioners ventured an opinion of how long the downturn would last," Bo said.

"Right, most guessed between under a year to a couple of years," I replied, "One seemed more realistic. What say you?"

"I'm more pessimistic," Bo said. "History teaches housing troughs usually equal the bubble, and that lasted around six to eight years. The Bush bailout only fed Wall Street's fat cats. Obama's stimulus package will try to create something from nothing. Look, home building just got too far ahead of population growth. Prices will be very affordable before this ends."

"But," Bo beamed, "I've got this great idea. Since nobody could find money for a community center during 10 years of hectic growth, maybe with no growth to divert their energies, new leaders might finally find ways to build that community-senior center locals have dreamed of."

"Paul Lockwood would faint with joy," I replied.

n Jack Van Dien is a Gardnerville resident. Bo the Builder is a plot device.


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