Why Can't They Cut the St. Pete Budget?

If doing more with less really exists, this is it. The answer is not fewer workers but fewer administrators, managers and supervisors.

They wring their hands, blaspheme about destroying the City, threaten to lay off police officers and firefighters, shut down libraries, stop mowing the parks...

But in the end, they do nothing about reducing the number of people working for the City.

There would be nothing wrong with increasing the span of control at the Police Department and dropping two or three Majors.

Eliminating one Assistant Chief and putting the civilians under an existing director would not affect street policing. Opportunities for civilian staff reductions still exist at the PD.

Similar actions could be taken at the Fire Department.

Public Safety is not where the real cost problems lie. With few exceptions, there are staff reduction opportunities, not so much among the workers, but in engineers, supervisors, managers, directors and administrators throughout the organization.

The City uses some of the latest information management systems in public safety and in the overall control of the organization.

These systems, ORACLE, I-Leads and others cost millions to buy, implement and maintain. But many managers, supervisors and administrators don't, or refuse to, use them to their fullest.  These systems, properly used, make larger spans of control easy to implement and effective. 

It should be possible to significantly flatten the City organization, leaving the number of workers the same, thus not affecting service, while improving efficiency and control.

Taken as a group, it should be possible to eliminate 20% of all non-public safety managers and supervisors, reorganize with larger spans of control and have a more effective organization.

If doing more with less really exists, this is it. The solution is not fewer workers but fewer managers and supervisors.

You can go back further, but the team on the field is basically the one David Fisher put together in his first term as strong Mayor. No Mayor since has come in, cleaned house and brought in his own team.

Why won't the current Administration do it?

First, Bill Foster does not have the leadership capacity or the understanding of the organization to institute and manage such a dramatic change. He believes all of those management people are really necessary.

Second, there is the family effect. Having been with the City for more than 28 years, I can fully attest to the familial nature of the City administration.

Mayors come and go, but the  "family" stays basically the same. You only have to look at the longevity report to see the number of 20-plus year employees. 

The argument is these people are too valuable to lose. My argument is many of them have become so ineffective and out of touch with technology and reality that a reset is way past do.

There long has been a strong reluctance to reduce management staff by pruning rather than attrition. 

Nobody likes to trim a member of the family, and once the process is started, you may be next.

Thus they always go to the bottom, the worker, ax them and blame the economy for the resulting poor service. This has been going on since the bottom fell out of the economy and continues to this day.

Next post I'll put forth a plan that reduces the management team and sets the stage for broader spans of control.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend Request

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

cherylwithac September 19, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Bravo, Doc!!!


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