By: Diane Benjamin
Five aldermen stopped the welcoming ordinance meeting for next week. More important are the names of the aldermen who didn’t sign the request to stop the waste of time and money: Scott Black, Amelia Buragas, Diana Hauman, and Jamie Mathy
Maybe now the Council’s full attention can be working on the budget. Are they stupid enough to tax fuel again? Do they really believe people won’t avoid local gas stations to save maybe .08 a gallon or more? What about truckers passing through? Why would they fill up here when down the road diesel will be cheaper? If they do pass an increase to the gas tax to fund road repairs, it will further prove roads aren’t a priority unless you pay more. It will also prove they are clueless about economics. Some on the Council want an aquatics center. Their priorities have and continue to be a disaster for the people who live, work, and visit Bloomington.
Follow-up to this story: https://blnnews.com/2018/02/02/citizen-budget-cuts/
If I had been on this committee, I wouldn’t have started with items discussed at the retreat. The entire budget needs scrapped because it is a budget for government employees, not the citizens. Starting over now would take a lot of time, it’s too late for this year.
One of the recommendations from the citizen budget group organized by Alderman Diana Hauman was privatizing garbage. I see at least one social media post a week about garbage not being picked up, or ones like this:
It’s ridiculous to believe a private company wouldn’t do a better job – they HAVE to in order to stay in business. Government doesn’t have that problem.
This document was written by the budget group and sent to the Council – please read it:
Observations and Thoughts on – Services Provided by Municipalities
Municipalities typically are not models for great efficiency. Capturing efficiency in government will likely always be challenging. Barriers to highly efficient government are many, and include:
- Inadequate attention on capturing efficiencies
- Reluctance to look beyond historic geographic boundaries to seek creative solutions.
- Excessive pride in what we have always been and done
- Ambiguous interpretation of roles, and accountability in government
- Leaders who lack comfort/experience with their leadership roles.
- Change adverse mentality
- Lack of government & citizen shared vision for the community
- Excessive focus on fixing problems rather developing durable long term solutions
- Less than strong and active citizen involvement
- Elected leadership prioritizing re-election higher than doing the right and difficult
- Citizen reluctance for engage in what some view as the dirty business of government.
One of the factors limiting service delivery efficiency for cities /towns is the lack of competition. Any organization operating in a monopolistic environment tends to be inefficient, due to the lack of marketplace pressures which encourage an ongoing search for improvement in both service level and operational efficiency.
Municipalities often have high expenses structures, particularly related to people expenses. Which is typically linked to employee benefits packages offered by government.
Well managed private businesses typically have a business culture linked to accountability for creating value, which is supportive of improved efficiency.
Many private businesses reward their employee teams for exceptional performance via bonuses and incentive programs. This type of performance linked compensation is, unfortunately rare in government.
The troubling reality, in Bloomington is that citizens have regularly been paying more than what appears on their city/town bill for the full spectrum of waste removal services. The revenue gap between the fees changed for municipal trash services and the full operational and capital linked expenses, to provide the service is not transparent. The revenue shortfall is typically covered by internal fund transfers, which hinders both elected leaders and the publics understand of true costs and benefits.
Some citizens, have expressed concerns about a private company generating a profit on delivering waste management services. One wonders, would those same people worry about the company where they work making a profit? Most likely not, because most citizens understand that stable employment and good service are not provided by unprofitable businesses.
Both public fear of change, council fear of ballot box punishment, lack of full transparency, plus conflicting leadership motivations may cause “trash talks” to demand more time than appropriate prior to April 30.
Government service delivery typically seems to best thrive, in service environments where there is little to no competition (i.e. public safety). Public safety service areas are viewed as essential municipal services and have both emotional and urgency connected to their use and delivery. Therefore, it is difficult for elected leadership to maintain “tight purse strings” on public safety budgets.
But, that is poor reason for simply rubber-stamping budget funding requests from public safety departments. Capture of efficiencies linked to organizational changes and greater willingness to explore and embrace collaboration, are likely sources of significant public safety efficiency improvements for both City and Town.
Municipally provided Parks, Recreation, Sports, and Cultural service offerings often can provide controversy within a community and region. Particular when budgets are tight. Not all citizens or demographic groups view the need and value of these diverse and optional services in the same way. Some view these services as non-essential amenities. Others feel strongly that robust offerings and significant investments in “entertainment & culture, contribute greatly to quality of life, and drawing/ keeping people in the region.
Seasonality of use, need for critical mass, and challenges in measuring efficiencies for this type of optional service offerings typically make investing in this segment risky business for most small to mid-size municipalities.
A local example of the issues linked to lack of critical mass, is the now-Grossinger Motors Arena. Which may be poorly located in the Central Illinois Region … thus fails to draw adequate turnstile revenue and lack efficiency required to generate a profit. (And why else would the citizens of Bloomington want to own this venue… if not for profit)