Thursday, March 22, 2012

Financial Stability

The special commission meeting tonight was called out of newly installed Commissioner Blumberg's frustration, shared by other commission members, that they had no clear picture of the city's finances. The commission voted to bring in an outside audit firm, in addition to our current auditors, to review our finances, prepare a report and make recommendations to the commission.

Not a bad starting place but I'm not sure it will accomplish what they want. The fundamental complaint, the financial reports are not current or useful, is not going to be resolved by an audit.

The city needs operational accounting that will show quickly and well how much cash we have, how much we owe, and what our reserve is. The city needs operational reports on performance. The commission needs to know a basic question - how much does it cost to do things and why does it cost that amount?

A simple example of questions we should ask, how much does it cost to fill a pothole and how many do we fill?

More complex questions might be, how much does a police patrol cost? How many do we do?

Real question. How many do we need?

Then it gets fun. What is the cost of filling potholes versus repaving the street? What is the cost of police emergency response versus community policing efforts that might reduce those responses?

These questions are being asked in every government entity from North Bay Village to the White House. And we need to answer them, quickly.

Tonight was a start. The commission has to question the expenditures top to bottom. It's their main job and I hope they will follow it through.

Kevin Vericker
March 22, 2012

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