Re: Deeper budget cuts detailed | July 2 story
Productivity the real issue in cuts
Hernando County government proposes drastic cost cuts in departments, services and staff only because of a money shortage to balance the budget. Cutting was shunned when money was plentiful. The real problem, however, is not money, but inadequate work productivity.
Work productivity decreases when department heads choose to work 10-hour, four-day weeks, thus leaving staff unsupervised for a day. Again, public holidays observed on Mondays convert weekends to mini-vacations, which disrupts work momentum.
Further, staff pursue their own interests in work time. County vehicle engines are not the only idlers. Finally, morale and, in turn, productivity suffer when platonic relationships become a play for one and tonic for the other.
Productivity is increased by discontinuing unnecessary tasks. Some have been expanded to fill time available. Steps in tasks can be changed as to when, where, how and by whom performed. Also, effective communication, coordination of activities, decisionmaking and conduct of meetings save time to increase productivity.
Increased productivity enables essential departments and services to continue adequately at less cost, so ax the tax to the max. Needed is restructuring — not streamlining — of outdated organization for long-overdue affordable government implemented by attrition.
James A. Willan, Brooksville
Re: Trimming impact fee helps the wrong people June 24 Times editorial
What service can you live without?
In these money-wrenching times of reduced property taxes and the resultant limited funds available for services to Hernando County residents, we come to realize, and accept, that severe cuts in the budget are overdue. In a matter of weeks, public hearings will precede a vote by the county commissioners.
In preparation, County Administrator Dave Hamilton painstakingly took steps not only to inform concerned residents about the history of county expenditures, but also to give them opportunities to identify what services they would be willing to sacrifice toward a balanced budget.
As the commissioners dwell on the opportunity to cash in on the $20-million appropriated by the Florida Legislature from the State Housing Trust Fund, there will be a lot of give-and-take to consider. Give first-time home buyers incentives to purchase a home, take away the intended purpose of covering the economic impact of their purchase, and what do you get? Deeper in debt.
Road improvements, schools, parks, libraries and/or emergency services are on the line, again. Take your pick. I'm in my late 50s, have private insurance and, for now, I'm in pretty good health. Maybe I'd be willing to sacrifice the funds allocated for emergency services.
Maybe you don't read, so all libraries could be sold as-is to Borders, and people can pay for knowledge at their own expense. Isn't that the direction budget cuts are supposed to take us? It's called macroeconomics.
Better yet, I don't have kids, so terminate at least half the working teachers, hold one big class in a gymnasium and save beaucoup bucks! Another plus side? Superintendent Wayne Alexander would have less to oversee, so a reduction in pay would be in order.
And you can bet those living on lime rock roads would gag on the dust and gasp their way to the podium to ask that road improvement moneys be left alone — another attempt to get the county to keep its promise to upgrade its roads.
Something would have to give. Out of about $9,200 in impact fees, more than $2,200 would be sacrificed to the benefit of developers, real estate agents, title companies and mortgage lenders — and their employees, plus the buyers themselves. Last year, only eight home buyers would have qualified, and those were for existing home sales.
The commission has set a public hearing for Tuesday. There'll be a group of builders and a long line of other influences behind them. They prompted the commission to hold the hearing and will by far outnumber residents who will be the ones to pay for the shortfalls.
There'll be another time and another housing boom that warrants construction to begin again. But for now, it's a losing proposition to existing homeowners, especially those who have homes they can't get rid of.
Ron Rae, Spring Hill
Subject: Concrete is the road to sprawl | June 30 guest column
Growth control worth fighting for
Thank you for printing Lesley Blackner's commentary. Ms. Blackner is a Florida hero for bringing Florida Hometown Democracy, along with co-founder Ross Burnaman, within a hairbreadth of the November 2008 ballot.
The growth model for Florida is bankrupt. It is etched in failed subdivisions and massive foreclosure rates; indeed our national economic troubles can be tied directly to the free-wheeling proliferation of debt and spending by the so-called party of fiscal conservatism, whose members are the strongest opponents of giving people the right to vote on the future shape of our communities.
There is nothing fiscally conservative about the way the building boom wrecked so much of the landscape of Florida. Now it is time for Floridians to take back control of our future by giving people the right to vote on changes to comprehensive land-use plans.
This is a titanic struggle, and the Growth Machine has pledged to spend whatever it takes to maintain its privileges and prerogatives. Indeed, there is a whole army of lobbyists, consultants and engineers who would have little to do or money to make if control of growth management amendments is given to popular vote, and not to the local cabals that constitute the majority of county commissions throughout the state.
I give the Times full credit for allowing Ms. Blackner's unvarnished view to be printed. More newspapers should follow the Times' example.
Alan Farago, Coral Gables