Municipalities are a tricky business to run – high turnover, elected officials, public scrutiny – who wants the headache?
The truth is, towns can’t run without them so how do we ensure a more positive and stable municipality?
Take a look at the weak municipality we discovered in a county in Los Angeles:
In an effort to save money, an LA County approved a new spending plan. The initial 3 year comparison would save $900K, so of course they went for it. Three years later those decision makers had moved on and couldn’t explain the thought process for this choice. Years 4 and 5 told a different story with a $3M jump in costs and the current decision makers left holding the bill.
Five tips for running a municipality like a smart business.
1. Outsourcing services and jobs A small town operation can see the benefit of subcontracting all but the most critical roles. This thought process can boost local business and keep a positive cash flow throughout the community. Critical to this decision is to keep the plan monitored as contracts with the public sector, if left unchecked, can spiral out of control.
2. Consolidation of service Order management or point of sale consolidation can be a money and time saver for municipalities. Consider the ease for the processor and for the public when taxes, licenses and bills are all paid at the same time.
3. Collaborate on Ideas Developing boiler room discussions through electronic resources, social media outlets and personal conversations have resulted in some of the most creative solutions to problems. We often discover the best answers from the most unlikely source and we realize that bringing people into the conversation brings communities closer together.
4. Creative Communication Ignorance is not bliss, nor is it a legal excuse. Any successfully run municipality recognizes the importance of keeping their public informed and there are more ways than ever to make this happen. Think beyond the community website to social media and virtual town hall meetings. Engage the community to create a more socially responsible atmosphere.
5. Keep debt close to Zero Inflation and deflation are inevitable so watching the expenses closely are critical to avoid the collapse of a municipality. If you focus on providing the necessities to your town the public will be more generous with their time and their money. Consider ways to cut costs on communications, technology and even travel expenses. Having cash flow available when times are tough results in a thriving community.
Now look at s stronger municipality in McHenry which relies on a strong partner to bring solutions.
The lack of continuous internet connectivity between police cars and dispatch was costing the city valuable time during critical communication moments. With a tight budget and community to respond to with answers, decision makers looked for a solution outside the dispatch box.