Our opinion: Delaying the inevitable

Delaying regular maintenance is a good way to ensure the eventual failure of most things mechanical.

Delaying maintenance, repair and replacement of static things like buildings can result in ultimate failure. Though more gradual and subtle, the failure comes nonetheless.

Eisenhower Middle/High School was a nearly perfect example.

For decades little effort was made by a school board more intent on deferring maintenance and improvements to that facility in an on-going effort to hold the line on taxes. One can appreciate the motive; holding the line on tax increases is always a welcome motive.

But, there comes a point when the delay becomes more expensive in the long run.

In the case of that school, the facility reached a point where the school district’s leadership had to decide to either close the school and consolidate its program with another or do something very expensive. What followed were close to two years of debate and conflict that nearly tore the district apart and ultimately led to a great compromise that came with a great price tag.

One wonders whether the future configuration of the Warren County School District, now forged in a master facilities plan that grew out of that conflict, might have been different if Eisenhower’s deferred improvements hadn’t been deferred.

Warren City Council isn’t on the verge of turmoil like that of the county’s school district, but the budget process which started this week provided hints that council members are grappling with the cost of a streets improvement program in light of its on-going – and might we add, admirable – desire to prevent the need to ask taxpayers to pay more than they already are.

Streets are not self-healing. Eventually all streets deteriorate.

Unlike the state in which it is located, the city cannot increase the gas tax to pay the growing bill to maintain streets. Unlike the federal government at the next level, it cannot carry debt past a single fiscal year to fix the streets.

The city’s balance sheet is simple. If you want something done, it must be paid for. If you don’t want to pay for it, it doesn’t get done.