Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Business Tips' for City Hall CEO and Board of Directors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Business Tips' for City Hall CEO and Board of Directors

Article excerpt

Byline: PHIL FRETZ

How many of you remember the spring of 2003, when John Peyton first ran for mayor?

As an executive at Gate Petroleum, he assured us, he could - and would - run the city like a business.

Ergo, a Peyton administration would never allow a tax increase.

And, yet, here we are, midway through his second term, looking at a fourth major tax or fee increase in the past two years.

What happened?

Unlike the mayor, and some of our "talk loud but carry a soft stick" City Council members, I've never run a business.

But I've worked for them my entire adult life, and that's given me some insights that somehow seem to have eluded the mayor and council.

So, here's Part I of my "Helpful Tips to City Hall" series:

TIP 1: MISSION STATEMENT.

When you know exactly what you're trying to do, it's easier to figure out how to do it. And "being all things to all people" doesn't cut it.

Former City Council member Art Graham got it right during a recent session with The Times-Union editorial board.

There are four essential duties of government, he said:

- Safety.

- Education.

- Infrastructure.

- Environment.

If it doesn't fit under one of those categories, he said, a government service is expendable.

Graham, a candidate for the Florida Senate at the time, was speaking about state government. But, other than for education, those are also the core functions of city government.

If the council had enough intestinal fortitude to pare back non-core services and straighten out the pension mess - we'll talk about those things in the next column - it could easily balance the budget without higher taxes.

Of course, that would entail standing up to influential special interests and politically powerful public employee unions that typically bankroll winning council candidates. …

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