Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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June 4th, 2010

Strategic planning assists in guiding our future

Everyone knows that sometimes the best mapped out plans never come to fruition, but despite that we must still sketch out our future, and so must Sullivan County.

Back in 2007 County Manager David Fanslau urged the legislature to add to our Charter a Strategic Plan that sets the foundation of the County budget process, followed by a six-year Capital Plan as amended, and finalized with the tentative budget for the ensuing fiscal year.

The Strategic Plan provides Fanslau with the intent and priorities of the Legislature as he develops the tentative budget.

Throughout the month of May, Legislative Committees heard presentations from Commissioners and Department Heads as Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis puts it, “to formulate the foundation upon which the County’s budget will be developed.”

The County Legislature must adopt a two-year strategic plan by June 30, 2010.

Discussing the need for the Strategic Plan, Fanslau told me, “When I commenced my tenure as County Manager, there were glaring holes in the fiscal analysis, tracking, and controls. I worked with the then seated Charter review commission to establish sound policy, through amendments to the County Charter to address those fiscal issues.”

The Charter amendments also included a requirement that annual revenues for the succeeding fiscal year be certified by the County Treasurer with collaboration of the County Manager.

Fanslau added, “The budget process utilizes the adopted Strategic Plan as the foundation, with the capital plan overlaid as the next layer. The Strategic Plan and the capital plan are then used to formulate the County’s tentative budget for the next fiscal/calendar year. The Strategic Plan adopted this June, will set the foundational programmatic and fiscal priorities of the County for 2011 and 2012.”

Sullivan County is in great economic crises and things seem to get worse on a daily basis. Fanslau and the legislature will have to make some tough decisions, and I am afraid that could lead to more layoffs, higher taxes, and less municipal services.

Blaming the recession in part for our fiscal problems, Fanslau added, it “continues to affect sales tax and mortgage tax revenues. The priorities will need to focus on the very basic services that the County is required to provide, and that the citizenry has come to expect. Additionally, there must be a renewed focus of strategies to realize economic recovery, and a comprehensive economic development master plan for economic growth.”

Legislator Leni Binder says, “Long range planning and budgeting is especially critical in hard economic times and the strategic plan is a blue print to follow. If you build a house, you can wait to decide on fixtures, depending on your budget, but you must have a budget for them, although style and colors may vary”

The sad reality is that we can have all the strategic plans in the world, if we do not find some sort of economic development to save Sullivan County, things are just going to keep getting worse and worse.

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