Monday, January 20, 2014

This Space Available II......

Former Governor Mario Cuomo often said that you campaign in poetry, but govern in prose.  Another take on the task comes from the management profession:  "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.  This is hard work, and to most who have little experience in doing it, it's scary.  But there are plenty of people around who have intelligence, energy and even experience.

So herewith we offer a governance outline from the infamous Gadfly community.  It needs some filling-in and fine tuning and criticism.  And then it needs some additional quantification and a time-line so it can be measured and managed.  The campaign promise list needs some "how and when" tweaking. 


Provide essential services in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Achieve fiscal responsibility by reducing the cost of government, reducing the inter-fund debt, lowering taxes and restoring the town’s municipal credit rating.

Attract and retain businesses by making East Greenbush a good place to do business.
Maintain and upgrade the town’s infrastructure.
Operating Principles for Town Officials:

·        Be fiscally responsible and accountable.
·        Always act in the best interests of the community.
·        Commit to a policy of transparency and maximum sharing of public information.

Financial Recovery:

Reduce the size of the town workforce by attrition rather than layoffs.   Implement a hiring freeze for all but essential positions.  Convert positions from full time to part time or seasonal employment whenever feasible.

Place limits on the use of consultants.  Implement a rule that consultants who recommend a project may not receive contracts from those projects.

Reduce the cost of local government by 10% within three years.  Require all managers to submit a plan to reduce their department budgets by 10% in the next fiscal year.  Any manager who refuses to submit a plan with at least 10% in reductions will have their budget automatically reduced by 10% at the discretion of the supervisor and town board.

Reduce town taxes by 15% within three years.

Consolidate town services with either the county or other municipalities whenever possible.

Explore municipal town consolidations in the capital district. Seek and obtain support from the governor’s initiative on this project and goal.

Town Operations:

Commit to the application of generally accepted accounting principles in all aspects of town operations.  Purchase and install accounting software.

Conduct a workload analysis for all town departments, including the Department of Public Works and the Police Department.

Develop and implement measurable goals for each town department and department head. Utilize annual performance reviews to assess, recognize and reward goal attainment by each department head.

Make all appointments based on merit. Create and implement a best practices method for posting open position and interviewing and selecting candidates. Recognize and support diversity in hiring.

Conduct full and meaningful external audits every year.  Specify individual operations for forensic audit on a rotating basis.  Publish the results in a timely manner.

Prepare a ten to fifteen year schedule for the maintenance, repair and replacement of town vehicles.

Community Relations:

Commit to a return of the question and answer session at town board meetings or schedule another meeting on a monthly basis to address residents’ concerns.

Utilize the town website to increase the sharing of public information.   Make the supervisor’s report substantive and not political.

Fully utilize town committees like the Board of Ethics and the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee to advise the Town Board and Supervisor on important decisions.

Investigate the best ideas for revitalizing Columbia Turnpike.

Measure the impact on town services of businesses on the Rt. 4 corridor. 

Goals for Governing from the Smart Way Forward letters to the Advertiser during the last campaign:

1)      Zero-based budgeting rather than incremental budgeting.
2)      Establish procedures for accurate revenue projections.
3)      No borrowing from other funds to cover general fund shortfalls.
4)      Re-consider the Ethics Law in January.
5)      Apply for aid from the State’s new Financial Restructuring Board.
6)      A zero tax increase for 2014.
7)      Coherent master plan for 9 & 20.

I may have left some issues out or not sufficiently explained amplified these items, so the majority is invited to jump in and amplify. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

This Space Available......

I think we need to see a policy commitment from the new administration.  This would mean some statements as to goals to be achieved.  This would also mean some statements as to how the current budget works to move toward those goals.  This would also mean some statements as to how the Organizational Meeting decisions further the stated goals. 

I think a lot of us would give almost anything for leadership which could articulate a vision for the Town and the steps to be taken to get to the goal.  Simply state what you are trying to achieve in quantifiable terms and then state the steps you are taking to achieve those goals.  This is not rocket science.  Governments do it every day.  If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.  

 Keith, Mary Ann, Deb, Ed…..Write something up related to the goals of the new administration and the steps already taken and to be taken to achieve those goals and post them here.  Let the community know what’s on the agenda.  That's transparency. Right now, folks are taking shots at what they see in the personnel charts.  Are you going to recind the tax increase?  Was the "tap-dance" on the budget an exercise to get cash for new pork for your use?  The election announcement was that there was a "tax cut."  The moves at the last Board meeting made sure that there wasn't one.  Who's ideas was that??  You see that some decisions keep raising questions.  

So write something.  Fly the policy flag of the new administration.  Post it here.