I figure it won't change. soon the govt employees will be 50%. That way there will be one person to watch one other person full time, to ensure no laws are broken.
Let's excel at efficiency
Submitted by Robert Brown on October 27, 2013 - 3:15pm
We live in an interesting time and place. Our county (Genesee, NY) consists of about 60,000 residents scattered around 13 towns, six villages, and the City of Batavia across about 500 square miles of largely agricultural space. Those 20 municipalities each have their own government structures with their own elections (surprisingly not all managed by the Genesee County Board of Elections) and their own net costs to taxpayers.
The City of Batavia consists of about 15,500 people (which is essentially a quarter of the total Genesee County population) who are represented by three elected County Legislators at the county level as well as nine elected representatives (one for each of the City's six wards and three additional at-large officials) on City Council. Genesee County Government alone employs more than 700 people -- those are government employees!
According to statistics published by Zoom Prospector, the government sector in all of Genesee County employs more than 6,000 people (those are all public-sector jobs and include teachers, law enforcement, et.al.)! That's a lot of government for the 15,500 people in the City and the 60,000 people in the County. That also translates to a lot of non-wealth-generating expense for Genesee County taxpayers.
Contrast that with the City of Weston, Fla. Weston consists of about 67,700 people with an elected government of five people and a whopping nine additional employees. That's right, a total of 14 government employees manage the entire government for 67,700 people!
Now I realize this is an apples-to-oranges comparison on some levels, but even if county-provided services (e.g., Weston contracts the Broward County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services -- yes, a county-run police force can effectively cover a city, in fact, multiple cities of substantial size) are included, Weston does not come anywhere near the County's 700 (more like 800-plus if you count all the municipalities in Genesee County) and certainly not 6,000 government employees for its 67,700 people. Yet Weston has streets, parks, sidewalks, businesses, homes, services, and everything else (except the same weather and state income taxes) we have in Genesee County.
It's time we look closely at the way we have been running government in Genesee County. Justifying three paid county legislators because Batavia is a third (or more accurately a quarter) the Genesee County population is not logical.
Are the needs of the citizens in the three legislative districts for the City of Batavia any different at the County level? Couldn't a single county legislator effectively represent the City? However many paid county legislators makes sense -- how about they retain an attorney as necessary and hire a county manager who then hires a clerk, treasurer, and a handful of department heads. Then contract the rest of the work out to the public sector and augment with part-time employees when necessary.
I realize it's not that simple to implement in a snap, but why can't we envision the optimum solution and put a plan in place to make it a reality? Why do we allow ourselves to perpetuate inefficiency? Do we really need nine elected officials on Batavia City Council? We elect multiple highway superintendents, clerks, judges, attorneys, coroners, treasurers, et.al., across the County and our various municipalities. Then an army of government-hired employees is assembled to perform everything government decides to undertake.
Why? How are the citizens of Genesee County benefiting from it all? Do we really need 6,000-plus government employees in Genesee County? Can we prosper with that proportion of government employment? Can we even survive? Should government even be in the business of providing services that are already available in the private sector, especially when the government-provided services are not fiscally responsible to all taxpayers?
If you believe government as a whole in the country is bloated, consider that about 15 percent of our active national workforce is employed in the public sector. That IS substantial and unsustainable. Meanwhile, here in Genesee County, about 20 percent of our active workforce is employed by the government! And on average, those public employees are paid as well as or better than most of the remaining 80 percent of the workforce in the County!
Genesee County has become a microcosm of all the problems we see at the state and federal levels: attempting to do too much with too many fingers in the pie. Let's get back to basics. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to strive for efficiency. Nay, we need to excel at efficiency! We need to stop expecting government to fill every role in our community and instead give citizens back the power, resources, and freedom to invest in solutions that work best for them.
We're on the verge of electing a new County Legislature -- let's elect the candidates who are unafraid to relinquish control and advocate an efficient, streamlined government.
For reference, here's a blog (sorry, it's 18 months old) on how Weston does it:
Bob, While I agree with your premise about Government. Your comparison has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING that you could do as a County Legislator.
We have 3 state Prisons, 1 Federal Prison and a Homeland Security (Border Patrol) contingent in Batavia, not to mention State Police TROOP A which is the headquarters for the entire Western New York Region That is why it appears to be so much higher than the community that you made the comparison too.
In order to reduce judiciaries, you need to eliminate villages and townships, there are jurisdictions established with those charters.
Much of your suggestion I do agree with, however, they are not in purview of COUNTY GOVERNMENT. Take a stroll down memory lane to the attempt to consolidate the city and the town.
And remember, in the case of the prisons and the State Police Barracks, those jobs ADD TO THE LOCAL TAX BASE not detract from it, They do however increase the STATE and FEDERAL tax burden.
Things that sound good, are often FAR MORE complicated and FAR OUT of the reach of local Government. Unfortunate realities.
Well done Bob. It is important to recognize the issues that are wearing on us. That way as a legislator, you can make decisions based on how it relates to the bigger picture. I'd say that is very preferable to Mark's suggestion that you just throw your hands up and say oh well, can't fight the system. And, Mark please do me a favor and stop with damned cap letters, noone enjoys being yelled at or having your finger poked in their face. Even if it is just figurative.
Dave I did not suggest just throwing your hands up, I merely pointed out the County is not the level at which things can under the current system be addressed. It is reality.
I was wrong however, there are 4 State Prisons and 1 Federal Holding center, surrounding the county,. Combined, they directly employ 15,000 people in four counties, a sizable portion of whom live in Genesee County. Not to mention the contract work associated with maintenance. and construction. A large portion of that 15000 and a large portion of the contract work comes from Genesee County. You say throw your hands up, I say that cutting of your nose to spite your face.
Do you honestly believe that Leroy would give up it's local government to help the county? Or Alexander, Town of Batavia, Corfu? We have seen what happens when we have tried before just recently.
The reality is, and anyone who has served on legislatures or councils will tell you, that until such time as Mandates, especially entitlement mandates are eased, local governments only options are the reduction of services. There are 39 county employees in the Sherriff's department patrolling 492 Square Miles, there are 39 County Employees in the County Highway Department maintaining 260 miles of road. Where are the remainder of the 700 county employees working? Take out the County court Employees that are already working at the limits of available manpower?
I might remind you, J Gsell recently reported in an article right here on the Batavian, that every single department at the county level reduced their discretionary spending last year, and Mandate was the issue most prominent in the budget.
I am not throwing my hands up at all, I am being pragmatic. If you want to reduce government locally, the answer is to reduce mandate, that can only be accomplished by increasing employment which reduces entitlement mandate and/or reduce services that residents deserve and demand.
I am fine with selling the Nursing home and privatizing it, that is efficiency. I am fine with cooperative purchasing of Highway equipment you gain there by sheer economy of scale, I could live with a county police entity over city and town departments however, it is up to city, town and village residents to decide that not the county, otherwise you are simply placing the same type of mandate on towns and villages as the State does on the county.
The dilemma that faces any elected official, county, school board, and town is that the platform that they run on is limited by the mandates from above. I agree that all that Bob proposes would make a better world, but your children are not safe in the yard until the tiger in the woods is caged. Caging that tiger requires facing the tiger and the tigers that we face are in Albany and Washington. That was my point, not surrender.
Let's set the record straight
1. I agree with Bob on his basic premis, we part ways in that he compares The City of Weston, to Genesee County, it is apples & Oranges. The 6,000 government employees he mentions are All Goverment Employees NOT just employed by the county, towns and villages but alo by the state & federal government. He compared that to the 9 management positions in the City of Weston. He correctly stated that government employees account for 20% of all employment which is about the New York State average. Conversely, Broward County has 16% employed by all government entities while the State of Florida Average is 16.3%. The diference is comenserate with the differences in how the States govern. In Florida, Usage Fees are several times higher than New York while property taxes are much lower and state income tax does not exist.
Reference for Broward County Numbers
2. The population of Broward County is 1,748,066, compared to Genesee County 59,000, not 15,500,. The City of Weston 67,700 compared to the City of Batavia 15,500. On the surface Bob's comparison still holds however, The State of Florida does not impose a fraction of the mandates that does the State of New York, Probation, public assistance, Medicaid etc in Florida are handled by the State, where as in New York they are mandated to the counties. Further more, Police & Fire services are contracted to the Broward County Sherrif's Office (Yes Fire/Rescue there falls under the Sherrif) and still some cities in the county have their own Police and fire services.
Broward County Sherrif's Office
With 5,800 employees, including more than 2,800 certified deputies and nearly 600 fire rescue professionals, In addition to sseveral other city and town police and fire departments in Broward county.
The fact is, that Broward County actually spends more per capita for Police and Fire Services than we do here in Genesee county by a wide margin. ( And Yes, they also have a very large State Police presence in Broward County [The FLE district HQ] as we do here in Genesee County.)
3. Governor Pataki pushed for privatization of government services state wide and met with strong resistance. The Manhatten Institute did a study in 2003 [http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_41.htm] which highlighted the huge potential savings that New York State could achieve by opening up to Public Sector contracting for State, county and town services. Due to the very structure of and the mandated nature of New York State and the budgetary problems that we had then and after into the Elliot Spitzer and David Patterson administrations, the growth of public sector companies with the skill sets and experience never materialized here as they did in Florida over 4 decades.
It is not that Bob is wrong, in fact I believe strongly in Private Sector contracting with local governments for more efficient services. Again to Dave, I am not at all throwing my hands up in the air, in fact the opposite.
I simply state this, there is no quantity of private sector companies that do these types of public sector work as stated clearly in the Manhatten Institute Study. Until such time as get the State under control, we can not even begin to ease the mandated burden on our counties. Bob's ideals are not in question, I whole heartedly agree with them, it was the lack of presenting the entire picture and the differnces at the State structures which enable Weston to achieve outstanding results.
If we are to effectively address our county issues going forward, we need to dramatically change the structure of the state government or we are just spitting in the wind.
It's easy. If you want to get rid of the County Youth Bureau, Nursing Home, Genesee Justice being run by the government,(sold, privatized, or just gone) vote for Bob. If not, look at the other two.
Neither Bob nor i are proposing any county mandates toward the municipalities within the county. Bob is merely suggesting that the county legislature could lead by example. Mandates and forcing others to do your bidding is the game of the authoritative Republicans and Democrats. We aren't Weston, FL. and we're never going to be. But it is an example of what could be. It does show the rest of us what is possible. No doubt, the State is the root of much trouble. How many of those mandates would go away if we stopped taking grants from state agencies? There are some state laws we can't fight, there are others we can.
Sorry, my friend bu you absolutely did infer throwing our hands up and rolling over.
"Things that sound good, are often FAR MORE complicated and FAR OUT of the reach of local Government. Unfortunate realities."
One thing I know for sure, Bob is highly capable of dealing with complexity.
Mark; And yes getting the state government off our backs is the singular most beneficial issue that can make life better for us all. It has to start somewhere. It is my steadfast belief and unyielding position
(Note: no caps or bold font, but blunt descriptive words)
that electing Libertarians to local office that will do a credible and thoughtful job is a great place to start. If we do it here, in Genesee County, then maybe Libertarians in surrounding counties will take heart and have hope and present credible and thoughtful and capable candidates too. I believe they are out there, all across NY. Even in NY City, I know some of them. The best candidate in the NYC mayoral race is Michael Sanchez. Check him out. https://www.facebook.com/MichaelSanchezForNycMayor
When a few more counties elect Libertarians, then candidates for state offices will get a better look from voters, and when Libertarians begin serving in the Assembly and Senate, good things will happen. For everyone in NY
Genesee County has a long reputation of firsts and innovations, let's make history once again and elect the first solely Libertarian candidates. Right Here. Right Now
Bob makes many great points on how big do we want our government in Genesse county After all he is running for county legislator and is putting his views and opinions out there for all to read and comment on...Can that be said of the others running for office....They wouldn't even debate because they have no vision or plan for the future of Genessee county..Bob presents us all with ways to control the size ,and a vision for what we should expect form out local government....Everybody likes to complain about the way our tax dollars are spent or how the county is run..Here is all your chance to vote for someone who is not willing to go along just to get along....