Monday, February 19, 2018
Opinion

Commission's myopia has killed commerce

The County Commission has not managed Hernando County in a competent manner and has not adequately provided a practical and proficient framework for running county government.

In a few short years Hernando County went from a vibrant, growing community to a county approaching slum conditions. The commission in those short years failed to diversify the county's economic base, depending instead on a dwindling housing industry.

Where was and is the aggressive approach to attracting new industry and encouraging competition? Even with no impact fees, it seems Hernando County cannot attract new business. Other counties with impact fees are attracting major businesses, bringing new jobs into their communities. Having zero impact fees only reduces the county's revenue. It has not and will not by itself attract new businesses. Generating new revenue streams entails, in large part, bringing in new jobs that pay well. The commission has not seriously invested in attracting new businesses to Hernando County.

Now the commission is going to give local preference when awarding contracts for county goods and services. Local preference means the county will be paying more for those goods and services and requiring the taxpayers to pick up the tab. At the same time, it hurts competition. Will the commission ever get serious about diversifying our economic base and foster competition?

Economic diversity goes hand in hand with good financial decisions. The commission should not only be looking at ways to generate new and different revenue streams but concentrating on making sound spending decisions. For instance, the commission used reserve funds earmarked for specific capital needs for paying operating expenses. Good business practice adheres to the rule that capital reserve money is not to be used for regular operating expenses.

Tough decisions are hard to make, especially unpopular ones. But when tough decisions, even though unpopular, are the right decisions for the county, the commission must make them.

Arlene Glantz, a retired lawyer, lives in Timber Pines.

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