ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is Breach of Contract a Good Use of Taxpayer Dollars?

Bookmobile, your source for Dawson and Gosper County News, brings this report from Hall County (which actually seems a bit out of their jurisdiction): the County Board of Supervisors has decided to cut funding to their local bookmobile, abruptly electing not to pay $70,000 of the service fee outstanding on the county's agreement with the library board for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.  According to the report, the cut constitutes a breach of contract, and if challenged in court, the county could not win.  Still, all six of the supervisors present at a special budget meeting were reportedly willing to take the risk of litigation because they believed "that spending money on the bookmobile is no longer the best use of taxpayer funds."  

Perhaps I overestimate the litigiousness of library boards, but it seems to me if you have a public admission of a breach of contract and an acknowledgment that the breach could not be justified in a court of law, you sue and you get the full $70,000 that's owed to you.  That means that the taxpayers will pay the full contract price, plus the litigations costs.  How efficient is that?

Of course, it's also possible that the library board will take the hit, in the hopes of preserving good relationships with the county and thus living to fight another day.  If so, I'm afraid I have to agree with Jerry Seinfeld.  Libraries are like some pathetic kid who has all the best sports equipment and lets you play with his ball if you agree to be his friend.

[Jeremy Telman]

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