TheNewsCenter reported this week that a lot of questions are being asked about the way in which money was allocated and spent to get the stands at Parkersburg High School’s Stadium Field ready for use this past fall.
The original estimate of $1.2 to $1.3 million now appears to have ballooned to $2 million or more.
How did this happen?
And even more importantly, how will those bills be paid?
The Wood County Board of Education, which gave $700,000 toward the project in a single meeting last Spring, has now said it will not pay any more bills until a more complete understanding of the project is obtained.
And how a group of area banks will be re-paid the thousands of dollars they loaned stadium backers, to help the project along, is anyone’s guess.
And then there’s the issue of the students, individuals and businesses who gave of their time and money in this effort, only to see those good works offset by serious cost-over-runs.
The volunteers had their hearts in the right place.
But the questions are:
Who was minding the store?
Was the original cost estimate for the project seriously flawed?
Was the project properly bid in a manner to help limit costs?
Were un-authorized persons allowed to widen the scope of the original project, driving the costs upwards?
Who was minding the store at the Board of Education, to make sure taxpayers’ $700,000 was being properly and legally spent?
Are there enough records to even help sort this out or was the whole bookkeeping process too loose for close examination?
And if this could happen with a stadium project, could it happen with other school projects?
The Wood County Board of Education has a lot of questions to answer and it’s important that it pursue the truth, no matter where it leads.
Otherwise, it may have trouble convincing taxpayers of future needs for money when folks might wonder whether THOSE funds will be handled properly.
A complete and thorough audit, that reveals the entire picture, warts and all, is the only acceptable outcome.