Operate the city like a business

Published 9:00 pm Monday, November 23, 2015

To the editor:

I have a few suggestions for operating Suffolk the way a business would operate.

Begin by requiring each operating department to manage the budget in a way that produces measurable results and best serves the citizens. Also, innovative managers should be rewarded for performance, rather than by building bigger departments.

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For example, by introducing competition from the private sector, road-repair costs could be reduced, resulting in better roads, while reducing tax burdens.

Eliminate duplication in each department by utilizing information technology, for example, by having a system in place to pay for the purchase of a building or inspection permit where the purchase is made, rather than going to the treasurer’s office.

Cut layered management that is not productive, such as with fire and police. Concentrate on protection of citizens and property. For example, stop sending unnecessary personnel and equipment to accidents. I have seen as many as eight fire vehicles, including the command bus, at fires that one truck could easily put out.

Purchase practical vehicles, not SUVs and expensive trucks, boats, and so on. Reward the purchasing manager for saving when purchasing equipment.

Lease high-dollar equipment, rather that purchase it. The formula for this is determined by how much the equipment such as vacuum trucks, excavators, backhoes and so on is used.

Do not take federal grants that end up costing huge sums of money to operate and maintain equipment that will eventually age out and be replaced at taxpayer’s expense.

Reward every department for reducing operating and capital budgets. This can be done while improving life for the average citizen.

Require each department to justify its operation. For example, how does the Department of Parks and Recreation stack up against the SYAA, which costs taxpayers nothing while providing the most-used recreational facility in Suffolk?

Regulate overtime, having department managers justify it in writing to the city manager, except in emergencies.

Here are a few questions for City Council to consider:

  • Why do we not utilize competition in everything we do that can be contracted?
  • Why do we purchase the most expensive equipment?
  • What has the new mosquito department done to reduce mosquito population in the city and how is it measured?
  • Do we know how many people the Parks and Recreation Department serves, and how much it costs per person?
  • Does the city manager have a plan to reduce the cost of operating the city, and can we pay him according to his performance?

Buddy Joyner