Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Montgomery County Council: Building a better $640 toilet seat...for $22000

Non-profits continue to be one of the biggest sinkholes in the Montgomery County budget, and as a source of political patronage, a hotbed of scandal for elected officials. A bloated Health and Human Services Budget remains just as "taxing" - pun intended. As I've previously mentioned, some non-profit employees who receive salaries and raises from the County Council turn around and write campaign checks to the councilmembers who voted for those outlays of taxpayer funds. Even as that scandal goes uninvestigated, your tax dollars are being wasted in outrageous grants to programs and non-profits that often defy common sense.

From the County that brought you the $900,000-over-budget sewer pipe in Glen Echo Heights, comes their next attempt to emulate the Pentagon's infamous $640 toilet seat. Yesterday, the County Council approved a barrage of budget line-items for County services and non-profits alike for FY-2018. Some were well-justified, and others a complete waste. Among the wasteful items was $22,000 for the purchase of a 4-camera security camera system for the County's new Supervised Visitation Center.

$22,000 for 4 security cameras in the year 2017? That price would certainly have gotten my attention if I were on the Council. If you consider that any County building would already have WiFi, you're talking about the four cameras, and video storage. According to Popular Mechanics, security cameras range in price from $100 to $950., a website that estimates project costs, states that Network-Attached-Storage devices range from $168 for 1 TB of storage, to $499 for 4 TB. Installation labor costs are estimated by to be $680 for four cameras. In other words, this whole system could be purchased and installed for under $1000, but the Council is picking your pocket for $22,000.

Interestingly, the $22,000 camera figure was not broken out in the Council staff report, but lumped with other costs in a $34,500 line item. The camera cost was mentioned by a staff member testifying before the Council yesterday. Not a single councilmember questioned the cost, and the item passed unanimously.


  1. Can you provide a link to the County's budget doc where you found this information?

  2. Your jury rigged system would have them contacting my company to come do it right.

    1. Want to put a good word for Barwood Cab and the County liquor monopoly, while you're at it? Some company is getting about $21000 more than they should be for this, and the big question is, why?

      Burt Macklin needs to look into that, and it probably ends with a perp walk outside 100 Maryland Avenue.

    2. Whatever. Your system idea is crap. Leave it to pros who know what we're doing.

    3. 9:16: Saving $21000 vs. not - sounds like I know exactly what I'm doing. Perp walk ahead at 100 Maryland Avenue either way.