A CUSTOMER WALKED into a local computer store. The clerk showed him an array of PC’s.

“This one will do everything you need,” the clerk explained. “It normally sells for $599, but with our discounts and company rebates, the total cost to you will be $399.

“Or we have this model, which is way more than you need. It sells for just over $1,300.”

The customer was taken aback and said, “$1,300? Who do you think I am — a county commissioner?”

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The recent controversy surrounding a computer purchase by Mercer County commissioners once again points out the frivolous nature of at least two of the commissioners — Olivia Lazor and Michele Brooks. Commissioner Brian Beader didn’t approve the purchase.

While the unnecessary expenditure of $8,000 for six new computers pales in comparison to the taxpayers’ money they have wasted at Woodland Place, it still points out the problems that exist at the county seat even on minor issues.

Controller Tom Amundsen questioned the purchase and pointed out that the county has always had a policy of “recycling” computers among departments. He said new computers had not been purchased since 1999 for any office. And since Children and Youth Services recently received 38 new computers through a state grant, their computers would have been available for the commissioners’ offices.

(Of course, that purchase raises a question as well. What kind of computers and software do they need that cost almost $2,200 each? And we don’t want to hear the excuse that it’s OK because the $82,680 is coming from a grant. That’s still our tax money being used.)

Amundsen said that since the old computers became available, they would have been a good fit in the commissioners offices.

Mrs. Lazor said she didn’t see the letter about new computers for Children and Youth or she wouldn’t have bought new ones.

Oh, really?

Amundsen reminded commissioners that all three signed off on the Children and Youth budget submitted to the state in August that included the grant application. Even if they weren’t sure if the grant would be approved, the commissioners could have waited a few more weeks to find out.

Mrs. Lazor said she became tired of losing information on her old computer. Here’s a tip: Control ‘S’! That saves things as you type in case your computer locks up.

Mrs. Brooks said she was losing 30 to 40 minutes a day on average of productivity because of her computer woes. What productivity? How long is she on a computer everyday? Is it really county business?

There was a controversy last year over the purchase of expensive computers for the new jail and now we have another involving the commissioners. When will it end?

Probably not until we elect new commissioners. We can only hope we aren’t so far in debt by then that we can never recover.

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