There should be no mystery about the county’s budget problems. In spite of having a monopoly, the county must still abide by basic economics and by that I mean, “Does the county provide a desired service at a fair price?”

For example, I have a customer whose deck, after 50 years, finally needs to be replaced. Since it was fine for 50 years, common sense says they should be able to build another deck the same size, same way and it would last another 50 years.

These people must pay out over $3,000 before the county will allow them to replace their deck.

Do you think that is a desired service at a fair price? The only reason the county has lasted as long as it has is it has a monopoly and some of their services are vital, like roads and fire prevention.

Here’s another example. It costs more for a permit to replace a water heater than it costs for the plumber to put it in.

How about that crazy business about the water runoff? One local business got charged even though they didn’t own the building they were in. If the fee were valid, it should have been levied on the owner of the building. Was that a desired service? If we hadn’t made a big stink to get them to inspect more than one business per trip, the fees would have been ridiculous.

Here’s what happens when you want to build or repair something. You pay an architect, an engineer, a contractor, building and safety, zoning, health department, fire department, etc. to be sure it’s safe. I believe this sounds redundant and unnecessarily expensive.

When I started building, all that was required for a room addition permit was a sketch on a single piece of paper and $50. The assumption was the inspector would see if there was anything substandard and tell the contractor to fix it.

Now, if houses had been falling down right and left, I could have seen a need for some engineering in certain cases. But the majority of work is pretty straightforward. If you look around Idyllwild, you can see houses and garages standing after 50 to 75 years, most of them built without a permit.

A homeowner should be able to simply sign a waiver which states, “This is my property and I’m not going to hold the county responsible if what I’m building falls down.”

The criteria of “desired service” and “fair price” are what determines if a business lasts or goes out of business. The same criteria should apply to the county.

Eric Townsend