A few ideas to cut city spending

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2013

To the editor:

Suffolk needs to reduce its spending and reduce taxes, not increase them. The reason for the revenue shortfall is not lack of revenue but out-of-control spending.

The city manager seems to have one purpose, to build the largest bureaucracy possible. This helps her resume. She has managed to replace almost all the past city department managers with outside people who don’t know anything about Suffolk, except that there is a huge feeding trough of government money for them.

Email newsletter signup

I propose the following steps to reduce the current spending. The citizens of Suffolk will experience no diminished services, nor will their quality of life be lowered. As a matter of fact, life will improve if these things are implemented, and schoolteachers can be paid as they should be.

  • Hire a city manager who has business experience and who is not a government bureaucrat.
  • Cut the Parks and Recreation Department by 50 percent.
  • Cut the police department by getting rid of all unnecessary people and equipment, like the police boat and SWAT bus, and cut overhead by 20 percent.
  • Stop unnecessary driving of fire equipment around town. Sell the RV bus and stop sending unnecessary equipment to fires and accidents. Cut fire department overhead 20 percent.
  • Cut Public Works by 50 percent, and contract work out at competitive bids. Every job I see city workers doing is overmanned by at least 50 percent. As I travel around Suffolk daily, I find it nearly impossible to find a Public Works employee working. But I cannot find contract grass cutters and cleaning people not working. Supervisors need to get out and see what workers are doing. Trash collection people, on the other hand, do a good job.
  • In the realm of public utilities, contract out as much work as possible. Dominion Power has learned it can control costs by doing this. They contract out most of their line work and all their new construction.
  • Turn the road system back over to VDOT. Since the city took over the Suffolk road system, the roads have continually declined to the point of being in the worst condition in my 68 years here. The city has spent the money received after taking over the roads on expensive equipment and unnecessary personnel. The work is done by inexperienced people and is, at best, shabby.
  • Reduce city vehicles by 50 percent, and do not purchase new vehicles until maintenance expense requires it.

Furthermore, I recommend hiring the same folks that Currituck County, N.C., uses.

I have a house there that is valued at two times my Suffolk house with one half the tax bill. I have city water and sewerage, twice-weekly garbage pick-up, outstanding roads (with no pot holes), and one of the best school systems in North Carolina and the nation.

The county is clean; there are museums, waterfront and nature parks. The crime rate is very low, and the county planning is second to none. The tax rate is one-third the Suffolk rate. The board of supervisors is well informed on every issue, and the citizens are well informed by their representatives.

My Suffolk home has septic tank, well water, and a treacherous road. I could not send my kids to the public schools, because they were inferior to any other choice I had.

I’m sure what I see is only a small part of what can and should be done.

Buddy Joyner