, Muskogee, OK

March 15, 2014

Facilitator expenditure puzzling

— Spending $14,000 to bring in an out-of-state facilitator appears to be a poor expenditure of taxpayer money.

New City Manager Howard Brown Jr. highly recommended the facilitator, who he has worked with in the past.

Brown, who authorized the expenditure to bring in the facilitator, said the cost is typical. Brown said the estimated $14,000, plus the facilitator’s expenses “is actually not a lot of money” and “is about the going rate for something like this.”

In a flat budget, you don’t splurge, especially when facilitators are available locally.

Perhaps that’s a conservative view of fiscal responsibility.

“The last thing we want to do right now is be penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Brown said. “I want to do this right. There is just too much at stake.”

Perhaps Brown is right. But it doesn’t sit right with a lot of taxpayers.

The city council hired Brown because he would bring new ideas into a town that is on the cusp of great things.

Officials said the decision to hire a facilitator will help guide this year’s planning and is expected to result in the evaluation of past efforts and provide ideas about how best to move forward.

We could be eating crow if the budget reverses its slide and starts to climb steadily as a result of the facilitator’s presence at the city’s annual two-day planning retreat last week.

We hope that is the case. But in a time when the city budget is shrinking, it seems a tad ridiculous to spend that much money on a facilitator.