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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014

Change is tough to swallow, but necessary to progress

Posted Friday, August 17, 2007, at 7:47 PM

By Nick Schneider

In the last few weeks, we've talked about two ideas that have been mulled around and debated for years to save taxpayers money and help this county operate more efficiently.

When that happens, taxpayers -- you and I -- save money in essence.

It's all about change.

The ideas of establishing a county manager position and one centralized school superintendent for the entire county are both ideas filled with change and goes against what has been done in this county for the most part in the past.

Change is always tough to swallow. It's different. In some cases radically different than the way we have done things in the past.

Hiring a county manager makes a lot of sense, if the right person is selected and the position doesn't become a political appointment. For too many years, this county has struggled with making ends meet.

If you don't believe it, come sit in on the county council's budget talks in a couple weeks. It's a struggle to come up with money to provide essential services -- not to mention raises for county employees which haven't happened for a couple of years.

With a county manager, county government can be improved pretty easily from a fiscal perspective.

The county will have to pay this person a salary large enough to attract the right kind of person with the right kind of professional skills to do the job. This person, aside from serving as a central buying agent, will also prove to be invaluable as the first contact in human resources and could complete the initial job applicant process -- again saving elected officeholders time and trouble.

The officeholders should retain the option of doing the final interviews to make sure that the right person is hired and it's someone that they are comfortable with.

In addition, a county manager could handle some of the day-to-day correspondence and grant writing duties that are now handled by attorneys -- and we all know that doing those kinds of things on an hourly rate is not the most economical way to operate.

On the subject of schools and the way this county operates them, discussion of change also needs to take place.

The county has had in past years the position of "County School Superintendent," but for the most part this person served as a truant officer -- especially in the later years before it was phased out and the office -- which was located in the county courthouse -- was closed.

Now might be the time to resurrect that position and grant this person some meaningful administrative duties that will save us all some money and provide us with more funds to help educate our youngsters in the fast-changing world.

The current five school district system in this county with five separate school superintendents and five separate central office staffs is simply something we can't afford anymore with local property taxes skyrocketing through the rooftop.

It's no secret that schools take the biggest chunk of our property tax dollars. By being more efficient, we can make those dollars stretch further and ultimately benefit our children and future generations who are students in our schools.

One central administrative superintendent makes sense from a dollars and sense perspective.

I'm not suggesting an immediate county-wide consolidation of all the school boards into one, but it also might be worth talking about if we are truly wanting to change. I can see a single county school board with equal representation from the current five school boards as being a better way to operate.

I've often heard that you have to be able to change or you'll get left behind. I don't think Greene County can afford to be left behind any more. Things are changing in this county whether we like it or not. Doing things the way they have always been done just might not be the best in the long haul.

Apparently, our readers also think the ideas at least merit some further discussion based on the number of comments received recently on our Web site.

What do you think?

You tell me. I just asking.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Yes, one has to be able to change, or one will be left behind. But change for the sake of change does not show wisdom or foresight, only wanting to be part of the latest fad. People today have short memories. Perhaps the causes for abandoning 1 county superintendent for 5 no longer apply. I doubt very many people alive today remember what they were. Before changing an existing system they should be identified to see if they no longer are obstacles to consolidation

-- Posted by poor richard on Sat, Aug 18, 2007, at 7:04 PM

Think outside the box:

Why not have the county buy or lease a portable asphalt plant and pave the roads in the county themselves? Do a portion of the west, central, and eat every year and get on a 10 year plan to complete the surfacing of all paved roads once a decade. They have the manpower, the mechanics, the trucks. Why not?

Why not have the county merge the county and city police departments and consolidate under one central command (the sherriff) and tax the cities and keep patrols in each area of the county. Add some deputies and get rid of the municipal police officers.

Why not consolidate all the school systems and provide one highschool with a college campus atmosphere and many programs offered, preparing our kids for the future. Include seperate elementary EG, B, L, SC, fewer middle schools, EG and L, and one consolidated high school SC. This eliminates the long bus ride until kids are older. Use the same buses and route drivers just start the middle and highschoolers at 7:30-2:30 and the elementary 8:30-3:30. Do not elmininate teachers but through retirement size appropriately for the students.

Why not eliminate the city fire department and subsidize the volunteer departments similar to what Bloomfield does?

Why not stream line courthouse departments and eliminate jobs, not sure how to do but workload could be reallocated/reassigned and positions eliminated. This is possible.

Why not eliminate workers in the city departments and have the people being subsidized (not disabled persons) by the government do cleaning, maintenance of the parks, lawn care, painting etc... as a condition of receipt of the federal and state subsidy. If they are able. Provide transportation and lunch.

Why not take county funds and prepare a site over the by the river in Bloomfield and lobby the state for a river boat license, and place a river boat on the White River. I would not recomend this but if we are dreaming might as well include this too.

-- Posted by CranialMan on Tue, Aug 21, 2007, at 2:30 PM

CranialMan,

You must not be from the local area. People around here don't want change. They would rather keep things the way they are and have less industry & biz and yet complain about their property taxes being high. Business would help lower property taxes.

Around here they would rather not consolodate schools because they can't get along with their neiboring areas. The thing is, no one knows why, they just know they can't. Consolodation would be better for all the kids and cheaper in the long run for the COUNTY. Their could be more programs for the kids offered. You could actually have a machine shop, auto mechanics & building trades vocational classes. Lets face it, not every kid is going to collage from our GC schools. They need to be taught trades so they can face the world with the same advantage that kids from larger systems come from, ie; Monroe County school system. BTW- One school system and has many more kids involved.

So anyway, good point, but we would rather not advance with most areas. We want to stay status quo and b.... about the cost of taxes and see more of our youth do without better opportunities.

-- Posted by DB@Blmfd. on Wed, Aug 22, 2007, at 8:27 AM

I don't think 1 high school can work in this county. Money wise and population wise it could, but I think this county is to large for one high school. Why not have 2 or 3 school sytems can work, we can keep the high schools as they are or improve them in some way.

-- Posted by meanjean23 on Fri, Aug 24, 2007, at 4:57 PM

I ment why not have 2 or 3 systems? The Vigo county school system has 3 high schools.

-- Posted by meanjean23 on Fri, Aug 24, 2007, at 4:59 PM

The government, at any level, has never saved money by creating a new position that is suppose to save money. If this "county manager" is going to consolidate purchasing, how much is spent in the budgets now. If the "county manager" is going to write grants, how much is spent now. Human resources? Are you kidding me? No one could even touch how much time and money would be spent on that, and would decay the the efficiency of the job.

-- Posted by hilljak on Sun, Aug 26, 2007, at 9:22 PM

Has anyone actually looked at the proposed job description? I have not taken a look at it, so I don't know what all is possible to avoid paying the going rate for attorneys (at over $100 per hour) to do work that could be handled by someone who doesn't cost that much.

Until I see the job description, I will reserve my opinion on the matter. Perhaps everyone might consider waiting until more information is provided before deciding to reject the notion.

-- Posted by Greenee on Mon, Aug 27, 2007, at 1:31 AM

Greenee,

Job Description or not, we know that the County Manger will need to make at least $85,000 plus expenses, mileage, etc... This is roughly what Jim C. makes as the Courthouse Project Manager now and this job is probably being created for him to help defray the consulting fees during the many years of legal fighting the great people of Greene County will pay as the many law suits for the courthouse continue after project completion hopefully by January 1, 2008 (I will believe it when I see it). The commisioners need Jim's input for many years and this is a way for the county to keep him around without running up the cost of the courthouse any longner. Not that it really matters anyway our great grandkids will probably get it paid off sometime late in their lives.

Sincerely and Regretfully,

CM

-- Posted by CranialMan on Mon, Aug 27, 2007, at 1:24 PM


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