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 18th, 2010

A leaner government also needs leadership

County Manager David Fanslau faced with an ever increasing budget deficit is now looking towards county employees for suggestions in making our government run in a leaner and more efficient manner.

Fanslau says the concept came out of a webinar focused on Lean Government, and how to utilize the internet more.

Fanslau tells employees “fiscal reality will likely require the County government spend less in 2011 than appropriated in 2010. Therefore, it is imperative that the County utilizes systems and resources that provide the greatest benefit to the General Fund, and most importantly to the County’s Citizenry.”

Do we really need to read between the lines to conclude what Fanslau is telling us?

If we do not get some form of change in the means of economic development, things are going to get worse.

Sullivan County has too much government and there must be consolidation between our county, towns and villages. We must confront this issue and work towards efficient effective government.

Firing employees is not always the answer, because those let go still need to find employment, and if they don’t, they could potentially bleed our county further into debt requiring social service programs.

We need a plan of attrition between our governments along with consolidation. When someone retires or leaves, then we should downsize.

An elected County Executive would bring us the type of leadership we need to do this not only in our county, but also in our towns and villages.

The simple truth is our current form of government is not working, even though I have nothing but praise for Fanslau, Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis, members of the Legislature, and Town Supervisors.

In an ideal world we should go back to a Board of Supervisors form of government with some modifications, and add the position of County Executive. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen, but a County Executive can.

Many are fearful of a County Executive, and already arguing it would create an extra layer of government, be costly, and not needed in a county this size.

Research shows just the opposite. The County Manager’s private secretary and office would be handed over to the County Executive. The County’s Attorney’s office would fall under the authority of the County Executive. The legislature would have the option of hiring an attorney.

I asked Sean Rieber, who heads the County Executive Research Committee about this, and he told me from 1998 to 2008 we had a cost per resident for the administrative and operations portion of government (not including public works, landfill or social services) that was 38% higher than the state average. Costs for these general operations ranged from 30-100% higher than neighboring counties with a County Executive.

Hopefully Fanslau will be successful in his efforts to bring us a leaner and more user friendly form of government, but a County Executive would deliver us the leadership and accountability we drastically need, and Fanslau might just be the ideal candidate.

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