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Editorial: Keep Long Term Advisory Council working toward future

Just after Thanksgiving and just before the 61st Board of County Commissioners was sworn in, Carroll County’s Long Term Advisory Council gave a presentation on its year-and-a-half of research, intended to provide some insight into what Carroll County might look like and the challenges it might be facing some 30 years down the road.

The 15-member group was split into clusters and gave individual presentations on the topics of agriculture, arts and recreation, business, education, health, public safety and technology.

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Certainly, it seemed some groups had more of an eye toward the long-term future than others. For example, while the group tasked with examining arts and recreation seemed to look way ahead with some pie-in-the-sky ideas, others, such as the public safety group, focused more on the immediate needs, while still others, such as the agricultural cluster, looked back to the recent past to shed light on what the future may bring.

It was a little disappointing that only two members of the current Board of County Commissioners — Dennis Frazier and then-commissioner elect Eric Bouchat — opted to hear all of the LTAC presentation in November.

LTAC Chairman Bruce Holstein said the committee’s final report will be issued electronically to the commissioners later this month, including the recommendations of the group, so all five will have an opportunity to see the work that has been done and get a chance to digest it.

We weren’t sure exactly what to expect from the LTAC and, after spending some time talking to those involved and other stakeholders for the recent series “Long Term Outlook,” the group has built a good foundation of information for the commissioners, but the job isn’t done.

During the first meeting of the LTAC group almost two years ago, then-Commissioner Doug Howard said the group was designed to provide some form of context to the Board of County Commissioners for long-term decision making.

In that sense, the work that has been done should provide the commissioners with the context Howard spoke of back in January of 2017. Now it is a matter of what our existing elected officials choose to do with the information and the LTAC itself.

Once the final report is sent, we hope the commissioners will pick up the ball and run with it. That doesn’t necessarily mean implementing every recommendation, but discussing them in a public forum and noting what is feasible, what is not, and what might be viable in the future.

We also hope that the county commissioners keep the LTAC group going. While the initial report was a great starting point and should prove useful, the county commissioners would be wise to make sure the LTAC continues on.

If the idea, as Howard originally proposed, was to have a group that could provide outside context from their areas of expertise as it relates to decisions county commissioners may consider making, then it makes sense to have one entity with representatives from the various clusters, rather than seeing that information out from the individual agencies or stakeholders.

We look forward to seeing how the commissioners proceed.

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