Government Budgeting for Dummies

March 29, 2008

Cover 7-12
In July 2007, we published our Ballsy Plan IV – Government Budgeting for Dummies

I reviewed the article this morning and found we weren’t too far off with some of our ideas:

1. PRIVATIZE AND SAVE CASH Neither Pensacola nor Escambia County needs a large legal department. Pensacola spends $727,300 on its attorney and legal department. The county attorney’s office has a $1.5 million budget. We live in the land of attorneys. Surely, we can bid this out and save some money.

2. GET OUT OF GARBAGE The ECUA, Pensacola and Escambia County handle garbage, as well as a half dozen private contractors.

3. PAY FAIR & SQUARE City residents shouldn’t pay for county fire protection or law enforcement.

4. VOTE ON FIRE SAFETY Escambia County tries to provide fire protection on the cheap. The IN brain trust proposes that each fire district in Escambia County vote on its funding source. Let the voters decide how important fire protection is for them.

5. ATTACK THE REAL PROBLEMS Escambia County has one of the lowest literacy rates in Florida. It also has some of the worse health outcomes in the state. Yet the county spends a paltry $3 million on its library system and an unconscionable $400,000 on the Escambia Community Clinics.

6. COMMUNICATE AND SURVEY New York City Mayor Ed Koch was famous for walking around his gritty city and asking people, “How’m I doing?”

7. ANNEXATION We brought this up last year. It still deserves consideration. Escambia County’s huge budget is partially because the county is trying to provide city-quality services to its urban areas.

8. MORE CITY DENSITY Let’s assume much-needed annexation doesn’t happen. Pensacola still has a problem of a shrinking population. We propose that the city re-examine its density requirements to allow more people to live within the city limits..

9. CONSOLIDATE Recent IN articles have calculated that the budgets of Escambia County and Pensacola combined total $692 million. There has got to be room for some consolidation of some of these duplicative departments.

  • Chris Olson March 31, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Rick – this is a rather tall order for our local governments to take care of all at once.

    We all need to set priorities for what we would like to see accomplished.

    I think the first priority is the consolidation of city and county services. This should free-up money that can be used to tackle other problems.

  • Chris Olson March 31, 2008 at 10:42 am

    “How long have we been listening to the same old talk about libraries and sewer plants, bringing in new jobs, schools and other issues that will improve the area?

    Are we there yet?”

    Improved services will come from a larger tax-base. Unfortunatly, Pensacola’s economy is floundering and it’s very hard to improve services when you can’t pay for them.

    The number one goal for our area should be to bring new employers into the area. Then the improved services will come.

  • Reality check South March 31, 2008 at 10:19 am

    “The logic in this blog, and I have been watching for awhile now, seems to be similar to the mentality a dog uses when he is chasing his own tail.”

    That’ the way citizens feel too!

    How long have we been listening to the same old talk about libraries and sewer plants, bringing in new jobs, schools and other issues that will improve the area?

    Are we there yet?

  • Reality check South March 31, 2008 at 10:06 am

    “You forgot to add one more. County residents shouldn’t have to pay for city recreation such as a maritime park.”

    Last time I checked the Osceola Golf course was in the county paid for by the city residents.

    I’ve heard the reason the city residents have all the extra franchise taxes on utility bills is for the extra level of service that the county doesn’t provide.

    Will those be removed from our bills?

  • Chris Olson March 31, 2008 at 9:53 am

    “unbelievable how some people cling so dearly to their cadillac sanitation service in the city.”

    Pensacolians need to decide if they want to keep their superior sanitation services or opt for something cheaper. We can’t have it both ways.

  • boo hoo March 30, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    unbelievable how some people cling so dearly to their cadillac sanitation service in the city. these are probably the same people who dump their couches, mattresses, etc at curbside and get picked up by city for free. what a deal

  • Anonymous March 30, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    You forgot to add one more. County residents shouldn’t have to pay for city recreation such as a maritime park.

  • Anonymous March 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Have council members made recommendations beside using ECUA ?

  • Reality Check East March 30, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Anon,

    That was an extremely well thought out response. You obviously know what you are talking about. A lot of what is written up in this blog, particularly on matters of local governance, seems to be short sighted and inept. Worse yet, the comments seem to be hurled with malice toward those who serve.

    Ironic that this same blog consistently bemoans the lack of better local leaders and politicians to step forward and run for local office. The grass is greener mentality. Now, the talk is that outsourcing legal as a cost saving device is smart? This makes no sense. The logic in this blog, and I have been watching for awhile now, seems to be similar to the mentality a dog uses when he is chasing his own tail.

    This is a good amusement site, not to be taken seriously.

  • Anon March 29, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    A large legal department? The city has 3 attorneys & if Wells is selected when the current city attorney retires, they’ll only have 2. You think paying private attorneys by the hour is cheaper? Come look at the bills the city pays for outside attorneys.

    As for getting out of the garbage business, just don’t get out & dumb down our service. I live in the city & value what the sanitation department provides & I DO NOT want to settle for what ECUA provides.

    City residents absolutely should not have to pay for county services that they do not receive or to pay twice for the same service.

    Annexation is a great idea, but FL law make it difficult to accomplish. Want to lobby for a change?! Come on Rick, step up & do something rather than simply trashing others who don’t do what you propose.

    Density is a mixed blessing. Research communities that have adopted similar restrictions. And for those of you who have homes on a large property, would you be willing to live on a smaller lot? Or would you opt to move outside the city?

    Consolidation can be a positive when appropriately applied. But what I’m seeing is that the city is going to abandon its quality sanitation service & opt for a lower level of service. If that’s what consolidation brings, then count me out.