If you were an employer and your employee proudly spent four times the cost for an item that was experimental, unproven and had no possibility for a payback or a break-even scenario on the incremental cost, would you be pleased with his gleefulness at such foolhardy spending? I would guess not.
Last week the Chattanooga City Council voted to spend $341,000 for a “Green” roof on the building in which they reside. This astronomical number is in contrast to what a standard roof would have cost - a mere $80,000.
Mr. David Crockett, director of the Chattanooga Office of Sustainability, would have the City Council and Chattanoogans believe that this 400 percent increase in cost is a good “sustainable” investment, citing a reduction of $4,000 per year in energy costs. But hold on Mr. Crockett. Let’s do a simple calculation.
The incremental cost of $261,000 for this vegetation-covered roof would theoretically see a break-even payback in 65 years. And let’s see, the roof is touted as lasting 50 years. So when the roof has to be replaced it will still require another 15 years before this wasteful expenditure is ultimately recouped. And elected officials wonder why citizens are loosing confidence in them.
The reality is that this decision by your City Council is a perfect example of the fallacy of the green “sustainable” movement. It can only succeed when common sense is exchanged for tomfoolery and when gullible bureaucrats and agenda-driven elected officials have access to "OPM." In case you aren’t certain what OPM is, it’s “Other People’s Money” - short for your money.
I would venture to speculate that neither Mr. Crockett nor any of the City Council members who voted for this outrageous abuse of taxpayers’ money would ever consider putting such a vegetation-covered roof on their homes or their own commercial property. And why not? Because it would require “TOM” - short for “their own money.” It’s easy to spend OPM even when there is absolutely no logical basis for such expenditures and officials have the mistaken notion that there is an unlimited and "sustainable" supply of financial resources coming from you, the taxpayer.
By the way, for the record, the vote for this Green Foolery was nearly unanimous in favor of this absolute waste of taxpayers money with Deborah Scott being the sole dissenting vote. Thank you Councilwoman Scott.
So next time you hear Mr. Crockett or your City Council extolling the virtues of Green and the wonderful opportunities that Green sustainable projects bring to Chattanooga, ask them how much of your own hard earned green money they are wasting in the process. Ask them if the project makes sense without OPM. If not, remind them that you don’t approve of wasteful Green Foolery - regardless of whether there is a 65 year payback on a 50 year life.
Chattanooga Tea Party
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Mr. West acts like a math expert, breezing through his "simple calculation," but his analysis fails the test. He might be right, but this particular word problem falls into the category of "not enough information,"
The missing information is "how long would the $80,000 roof last?" For example, if the $80,000 roof only lasts for 12.5 years, it will require four such roofs to make it through 50 years. Then the cost comparison is $320,000 vs $341,000.
The only way Mr. West's math works is if the standard $80,000 roof lasts for 50 years, which I kind of doubt, but we are not told for sure. Regardless, without stating the duration comparison, this is an equation that does not compute.
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Mark West has a valid response to 'green roof' at first glance. One could wonder why a building with a terrazzo floor and stone walls would have a roof that would live for only 10 to 20 years. The $80,000 roof today would cost about 20 percent more at the end of its lifetime and so on. His dissension is valid with the American principle of buying goods and services at the lowest possible cost, or low bid, to "save money." One usually has to go to other first world cultures to see that quality is the best economy and to find long term forethought in building design, construction and maintenance. Why though, even with 99 percent of houses built nowadays, do folks build with a roof to last far less time than the 30-year note? And put high dollar tile, carpet, and wood floors under that roof.
Simply put, most folks think as far as their time of ownership and let the next owner deal with cheap choices down to the footings. My hunch is Tea Party government will bring in the day of double wide government building with quick-build, steel-sided annexes. I know that is a far more reasonable alternative to the gilded new Federal Courthouse we may well get at around $300 per square foot. Hopefully, there will be a compromise on the extravagance. Likely, it'll be in the roof. Only the birds and AC chillers go there anyway. To coin an old carpenter phrase, "You can't see it from my house."
An aside, some of our nation's parks and golf courses have found out some interesting math. Grounds work is easier and more cheaply done the old-fashioned way, by hand and without chemicals. Detractors of current best practices would behoove themselves to research their kneejerk response and see for themselves whether their criticism is well-founded or unfounded. Supporters are obviously fair warned - they need to know their facts, dispense them honestly and let the chips fall where they may.
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According to the Chattanoogan poll, 82 percent think the council should not have spent $341,000 on the green roof.
Of course, the council members think that they always know best even when they see polls like this. It was the same thing with the Blue Rhino. The citizen/taxpayers are just uninformed idiots and the exalted council members know it all.
It's no problem when you are spending OPM (other people's money.)
I hope the voters remember this council at the next election.
Ronnie "Rock" Land
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There's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell anyone who believes any government expenditure is really for the good of the people. Unfortunately, too many gullible believers would jump to buy that government-sponsored bridge.
I imagine that in addition to the cost of the "sustainable" roof there's also 50 years of upkeep and maintenance typical of most greenery. I mean, unless the roof's an air fern (which could not possibly "sustain" itself on Mother Earth's polluted air!) it must need some combination of tilling, fertilizer, re-seeding, and watering...and mowing? Apparently it takes a village with sheeple-inhabited thatched-roof huts to raise a government.
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Chattanooga has had major problems in the past with their construction projects. According to today’s headlines in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, it will cost millions of taxpayers’ dollars to repair the waterfront.
Now Chattanooga wants the taxpayers to install a green roof on the City Council building. Does the projected cost take into account the ongoing maintenance cost involved? Maintenance neglect is one of the main problems with green roofs. They should have regular inspections for fungal diseases as well as checks on the drainage system underneath the green roof to make sure there are no backups that could cause pooling. Leaks in roofing material could pose substantial problems with the cost of repairs. Who will be responsible for the maintenance and how much will it cost? Will the company who installs the roof be responsible for cost of repair in case there are problems later on like the problems the taxpayers now has to pay for with the waterfront?
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Hey, re-enforce the roof and just have the police park their police cars up there. Since the city's leaders have taken away the officers' police cars, they can once again get some use from the cars.
Since Chattanooga can't afford to pay the gas needed for the cars to make the streets and neighborhoods safer by being out and visible, they can be used for roofing.
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There are interesting details concerning Mr. Crockett, director of the Chattanooga office of Sustainability, on this topic and possibly some lingering questions which may need clarification. First, when a City Council member asked about the roof warranty Mr. Crockett thought for a moment and said, "I would think it is the usual warranty, 20 years I guess."
Second, in a Times Free Press article last week Mr. Crockett claimed the roof would last 50 years. Hm, what is it 20 or 50 years? I would be interested in seeing any data that would support his claim of 50 years.
Third, Mr. Crockett claimed the federal grant money could only be used for this roof project. It supposedly was earmarked last year. Is it the COS make an error in judgement by earmarking money a year ago on a maybe project, thereby blocking money from any other use? And, horrors of horrors that Chattanooga might even think of giving the money back. As my councilperson, Jack Benson, stated, "If we didn't spend it then some other city would get it and spend it!" By the way $341,000 divided by $4,000 equals 85.25 years for the savings to pay for the cost. Is this an example of someone's pet project funded by OPM?
Fourth, maybe it is just me but I am unclear about the total amount covered by the grant. Several members of City Council indicated they were under the impression the entire cost of the roof, included the architectural study of $27,000, was being covered by the grant money. Therefore, no city funds were going into the project. Is that correct?
Fifth, Mr. Crockett stated an interesting and emphatic goal for Chattanooga's downtown. "There will be no roof left behind. This will be the first of 100 green roofs for Chattanooga." Hm, we tried No Child Left Behind and we all know how that went. Just where will all the funding come from for these other 99 projects? Does Mr. Crockett have flights of fantasy in his dreams about anyone doing a green roof without a federal grant? And the USA is how much debt? Could "green foolery" projects like this multiplied hundreds of times be one casual factor?
Sixth, the Chattanooga Office of Sustainability does plan to use the roof as a showcase for Chattanooga's Climate Action Plan. How many of the city taxpayers are interested in completely funding the COS starting in FY2014 after its Department of Energy grant runs dry?
Seventh, there has been very little indication of the maintenance costs the city will accrue for the roof. It is not like this roof will be a tourist attraction. You would only be able to see it from a taller building nearby or a plane.
Finally, I'll bet City Council would not have approved this "Green Foolery" if city taxpayers had to pay the entire bill. It is very difficult for local governments to wean themselves from the federal government's "free money."
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The "Green Roof", over $100 million more for sewers, the Waterfront crumbling...City Council should all be fired (excepting Ms. Scott). There is seemingly no valid oversight of resident's money. Yet, the arrogance from the top down continues endlessly.
If Chattanooga does not elect some non-corrupt managers soon, the taxes will continue to rise and just like NYC, taxpayers will continue to flee the city confines.