Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hope Is Not A Strategy - Positive Thinking Is Not Governance

The commission met on Tuesday night and North Bay Village is now on track to raise the current millage from 4.7772 to 6.2 or so. That's a 31% increase.  

The rise is inevitable because our village is not really governed in any true sense of the word.  For two years, the commission has been hitting the reserve accounts to cover everyday expenses, so much so that it went from $1.2 million at the beginning of fiscal 2012 to around $300,000 at the end of 2013.   

Not once during that time, did the mayor or most of the commissioners say, "We need a plan."  Not a better plan, any plan.  

The manager's presentation was direct, understandable and grim.  We're on the road to broke unless either the millage goes up or spending goes down.   And while some spending is going down, others are going up and there's no plan.  

One resident asked why there was no accountability for the nearly $1 million wasted by the PD when two cops were fired and then reinstated.  

Others wondered about looming retirement payouts.  

My contribution was to suggest that at a minimum the village should put performance measures on the money so we can see if we spent it to produce what we wanted.  My examples were:

  1. Add a performance measure to the money we are giving to Treasure Island Elementary School.  State that we expect them to improve at least one letter grade from a C to a B or no more money in 2015.   
  2. Add a performance measure to the police.  State that we expect them to move us from 27th out of 34 in crimes resolved to the top 10.  
I gave several other examples.  Jorge Gonzalez never heard of such a thing, the mayor thought it would be insulting to tell the managers that we are watching how well or poorly they are doing and in a truly bizarre response, the finance department said they were using performance measures and they were in the budget.   Utter nonsense of course.  The budget has some poorly worded mission statements but nothing you can measure.  

This is the problem - after two years of spending without regard to revenue and with no way to measure success and manage failure, the commission voted 3 - 2 to go ahead without a plan and without a view of what happens next.   

Commissioner Wendy Duvall voted "no" on the millage rate increase and on the budget, not because she thinks the money will grow on a tree but because she knows you have to manage it, and that setting and measuring expectations is the only way to do it.  

The final meeting is next week on Wednesday the 25th.   Why not show up and see why the  commission feels that it's okay to spend our money and not ask on what, or how.   Then explain it to me.  

Kevin Vericker
September 19, 2013

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