OPINION: Is It Spending Or Investing?

money4-e1293148263329.jpegBy Bart J. Allen

Though much has been written about the Saline County/City of Salina impasse over the health department building, I think the real problem is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. The elephant? The future of Salina and Saline County.

For instance, spending and investing are, in reality, just different sides of the same coin. It just depends on where one is standing in life when observing the coin.

At age thirty, borrowing money to buy a big house and a van for the growing family aren’t expenditures as much as investments in the future, a future predicated almost exclusively on hope and faith in oneself. I don’t care who you are. There is absolutely no proof that anything is going to work out financially. One has nothing other than a belief in themselves, their potential, and the future itself. In short, it’s called optimism.
At age eighty, for all practical purposes, there is no tomorrow, no future, and optimism has left the building. Under such circumstances, one doesn’t borrow to buy a family van or a big house, or invest cash long-term. In fact, the opposite is true. Cash out, hunker down, make use of what you’ve got and hope it doesn’t run out. Don’t take any chances. That’s how it is for most.

Replace the worn out car – Why? It’s truly a waste of cash since you might be dead before you hit the first light on the way home from the dealership. Put new roof on the house? Makes more sense to just patch the hole instead and focus on staying alive until the next rain.
Cities are no different than people. They have a lifespan and our county is an old man. As such, I find myself siding with the Saline County Commissioners to just fix the old building.

As a retired CEO, I know that one of the most important aspects of responsible leadership is not lying to oneself. We’re not looking at the investing side of the coin anymore and haven’t been for a long, long time. It’s just the spending side, because there is no future for a Salina that doesn’t grow, and it doesn’t.

What’s obvious to me is that the county guys are at least willing to tacitly admit that Salina’s/Saline County’s heydays aren’t coming back anytime soon. As for those optimistic youngsters on the city commission and over at the health department? Well, it doesn’t hurt to dream.
Salina’s feel-good guys can yak all day long, and yak they do. The fact is that the progress train of the 20th century, so embraced by the cities surrounding us that were willing to invest in their futures, isn’t coming back to see if we changed our mind about getting on. Hats off to the county commissioners for embracing the light.


The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not represent those of the Post News Network and/or any/all contributors to this site. 

  • Old Hippie

    Interesting view and you certainly could be right. If Salina were a growing community with active investment, we wouldn’t have so many perfectly good buildings without occupants and up for sale. But even without the growth perspective, using an existing resource instead of passing them up in favor of spending more on something new seems foolish. I went this week to the Arabia Steamboat Museum in KC and noticed many old downtown buildings being put to good use.

    • Old Hippie

      Brain fart: “NOT using an existing resource instead of passing them up in favor of spending more on something new seems foolish.”

  • GeeWhiz

    OMG, Bart. Didn’t think it would happen but I actually agree with you this time. Nice presentation!

  • Hunter

    Bart –

    You had better move before the City shuts down!

  • tsks

    So you are saying that Salina should not be confident in itself and should just fold up shop and wait to die?

    Awesome viewpoint.

  • Truth sayer

    (1) One thing that I have not seen is a really good cost-benefit analysis of the health department.
    (2) One sad fact is that it is utilized by A LOT of illegal aliens. Why the hell should I pay for non-US citizens? Show proof of citizenship or get deported. What is the actual percentage of actual US citizens that utilize the services of the health department? Maybe we need a closet and not a large building?
    (3) What are all of the services offered by the health department? What is the actual utilization? Can we get rid of some? (I am sure there is no waste in a government department — yeah right!). Are all of the services appropriate to stick the bill with the tax payer? Are there duplication services here? Maybe we do not need such a big building.
    (4) I would like to see an indepth study by the commissioners and not by some building contractor – what existing buildings are available around town (talk to a realestate agent?)? What are the costs to remodel these buildings? Why should it cost $4M for the construction of a small building? Seems high.
    (5) What about leasing space? Has this been investigated? What are the annual costs?