Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

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Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Best of the Blogs

Article excerpt

PRICE WILL DETERMINE WHAT ROLE COUNTY MUST FULFILL

The County Commission's Finance Committee held one of its regular meetings, except this particular meeting wasn't that regular. It included an all-too-brief discussion about the very definition of local government and what it must be or should be.

Commissioner Harold Rutledge got that ball rolling and he and County Auditor Mike Price batted around the concept, raising some interesting questions with some interesting answers and the promise of more to come.

What, exactly, is local government required to do? Federal law makes certain mandates, and Florida state law requires county governments to perform a variety of chores. So, if you take those into account, what is the very least Clay County government can do without violating the law?

That's the bottom line of government, and it was lost long ago in wave after wave changing mandates and additional levels of bureaucracies and programs that have caused government to grow to the point that it is only efficient at its feeding its own growth. In fact, no one in Clay County government even knows what the real bottom line is, which kinda makes it difficult to put a lot of other things into any kind of truly meaningful perspective.

Pretty soon, though, we'll all find out what - exactly - our local government is required to do. And, by default, what it does by choice. Price will do the researching and report back. That's a great starting point for the debate about justifying each individual service or program offered by the government of Clay County, as I've often urged.

Price, who has a way of avoiding governmentese when he talks, pointed out that each program government begins creates its own market demand which, by virtue of government's non-profit nature, immediately renders the program underfunded.

That whole bottom-line issue came up as a result of Rutledge and Price discussing the possible ramifications of voters approving the Save Our Homes constitutional amendment in next month's election, and how the county will handle the expected loss of $9 million in revenue. …

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