Lori Boyer has updated her website (LoriBoyer.org) with an abundance of information about recent activity in the city government… Her Newsletter is noted below. Please visit her website to view all of the new information.
December is both a joyous and challenging month. City business is crammed into a shortened meeting calendar, amidst holiday events and year-end deadlines. Yet the opportunity to pause with family and friends and reflect on the value of those relationships, and the importance of faith in our lives, is precious beyond measure. I hope you will take the opportunity to do just that. I also hope you have taken the opportunity to check out the Gingerbread Extravaganza sponsored by the Historical Society or attended the Lighted Boat Parade. There are so many wonderful events this month something is sure to suit your taste.
In Council business, we were unable to complete work on the Mayor’s second proposed reorganization of City Departments before year-end. The bill is designed to create better operations, not necessarily cost-savings, but I am not sold on the improvement, if any. You may recall a reorganization that took place shortly after the Mayor took office. The new bill makes additional changes and reverses a few made last time. The costs and implementation challenges are still being evaluated. Look for action on that bill in late January.
Council Member Lee sponsored legislation that passed Council last week creating a new Division of Mowing and Landscape within the Public Works Department. Those services had been fragmented in several departments and some of the problems associated with overgrown lots and rights-of-way were attributed to that fragmentation. Hopefully, the clear accountability of a single office will improve the level of service citywide in this area.
For me, my work on the Task Force on Consolidated Government has proven to be enlightening, as well as time-consuming. Our scope is broad but I have distilled four primary areas of concern.
- Loss of continuity and institutional knowledge hampers our success. With the advent of term limits, and significant numbers of appointed employees who change with administrations, we lose forward momentum on a regular basis.
- Neighborhoods feel distant and underserved by our consolidated government that is large, hard to navigate, and offers one-size fits all approaches to very diverse and distinct communities. This is the only clear downside that has been articulated consistently across the City and we are missing out if we don’t take this opportunity to improve and engage our residents.
- Centralization of certain services such as IT, Human Resources, Procurement and similar areas was promoted as a cost saving opportunity of consolidation. It is inconsistently implemented and appears to not have achieved the promised cost savings while often being the source of conflict among departments and independent authorities. There is work to be done here.
- The absence of an integrated strategic plan that crosses jurisdictional boundaries between the Independent Authorities of the City, the City government itself, and affiliated agencies and entities holds us back from achieving our full potential. Each may perform its own mission well, but they are not integrated to achieve a broader set of goals for the City. At worst, we see conflicting efforts at cross-purposes. There should be a mechanism and structure to establish the common goals, buy-in from all sides, and directed effort to assist each other in getting there.
Stay tuned for more on the Task Force as subcommittees complete their work in February and March.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity to serve you. I am truly blessed to represent such a wonderful District and always welcome your comments and suggestions. May you have a blessed holiday season, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.