At least I spoke up at the County Commission meeting!
Other than a mob there to speak out on behalf of swimming pools and life guards (who all cleared out after the Commissioners assured them no one would close their pools), only a fraction of the chamber was filled and only 6 people remained who wanted to make public comments. I’m currently watching the afternoon session on channel 20 and the only public comment allowed is on transportation (eg palm tran) and the cultural council – one person each for 5 minutes. The focus of the afternoon session is to discuss level 1/2 cuts. The focus of tomorrow’s regularly scheduled BCC meeting is to examine the cases from various none governmental organizations on why they should be funded.
I spoke up and gave my 3 minutes speech (which follows). While the commissioners didn’t get up and walk around – I’m sure they weren’t impressed 😉 After the 6 public comments, the meeting adjourned for lunch – and I was interviewed by Channels 5 and 12 and by the Palm Beach Daily News.
Commissioners and Staff – last year there were some good exercises on deep cuts and then most of those cuts were ignored and you raised taxes. This year, the conclusion seems to be that coming in below roll back is a significant accomplishment. Why is roll back as a starting point even a valid goal? Commissioner Vana captured some of the essence of my comments.
This year’s level 1 and 2 budget cut exercises appear to be less aggressive than last year’s. We already know that the 2011-2012 budget year will be challenging. You should be making drastic cuts NOW, including the sheriff; MUCH DEEPER THAN the level 1 and level 2 assumptions as the baseline, and then discuss what, if anything, needs to get added back in.
On July 7th Rasmussen Reports published a poll entitled “Most Americans are not willing to pay higher taxes for public employees and entitlement programs”. I have a copy of the article for your records. While the questions were about state government – the sentiments would also apply to county government. “69% say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes to avoid lay-offs of public employees”. “63% say they would not pay more taxes to keep entitlement programs afloat”. Listen to the people!
Commissioner Abrams has previously asked about out-sourcing. Large corporations do this all the time. The County should out-source entire sections of the government. The companies getting the contracts have the option to hire some or all of the county employees at private sector salaries and pensions. This ensures continuity of knowledge but allows for innovation and streamlining as economic conditions warrant. The private sector can move people in and out of jobs with flexibility that the County doesn’t have. Businesses are not limited to the County as their only client – so should County needs go down they can shift their operations and people to other things.
In the corporate world, at least once a year, we had to ask ‘what business are we in’? In tough times we were also asked to cut 10% per year – year after year – which was easy in the beginning and became more difficult when one had to lay-off good employees and/or be terminated oneself. It’s natural for every organization to justify its existence – it’s a rare person who will stand up and say ‘my department does good work but that work isn’t necessary and so my team and I should be laid off’. But, in the private sector – if one doesn’t change the way one does business, one goes out of business. Governments just raise taxes and fees. And that’s all you seem to be doing with this budget.
Stop doing the things that aren’t directly associated with the answer to ‘what business are you in’. What is the minimum you need to be doing to fulfill the County government mission? If it’s not part of your core mission – STOP DOING IT!!!
You are all residents and tax payers too. But remember – you work for us. We’re don’t work for you.
Let us use OUR MONEY – not to grow or maintain the county government, but TO GROW THE COUNTY’S ECONOMY.