Sunday, May 26, 2013

My response to The Lima News' October 27 editorial

Originally published on Monday, October 29, 2012

As many of you already may know, The Lima News announced Saturday they are endorsing my Republican opponent for the Allen County Commissioner race.

First and foremost, this response is not intended to naysay his endorsement by The Lima News. This is my second run for a partisan elected office and I know such developments come with the territory.

What compels me to write this is my position on the issue of zero-base budgeting was misrepresented.

It is true I believe now is not the right time to implement such a policy with Allen County's departments short-staffed.

However, when the subject has been raised I have consistently said I believe combing through the general fund budget is a legitimate task for a county commissioner to assume. To print that I ever so-much-as hinted at it being "too time-consuming for a new county commissioner" is factually incorrect.

The term "micromanaging" was our other opponent's choice of words. This was not adequately specified in the endorsement editorial – which insinuates it is my stance as well.

Furthermore, during the candidates forum with The Lima News' editorial board, I added (but these remarks were not printed) that I believe the best approach on this is for a commissioner to thoroughly examine budget line items and, when a red flag comes-up, bring the matter to the attention of the respective department and office, ask them to justify the expenditure, and proceed appropriately.

That is simply a common sense approach to tackling a $24.5 million fiscal year budget.

I also have consistently asserted that local governments exist to provide essential public services. As stated above, much of Allen County's government is understaffed for the workload it presently assumes. Those two points, when considered in conjunction, are highly relevant due to the fact Cory Noonan never once directly answered concerns raised over how much of the zero-base budgeting work would be delegated to Allen County's departmental staffs.

When (should he win) such endeavors trickle their way down through the county employee ranks – given they are stretched-thin already – the question that he perplexingly was never pressed to answer is how much will such additional work take away from those public services?

How long will Allen County residents tolerate such developments?

As I said at the debate hosted by the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, my prediction is if zero-base budgeting is implemented an impasse will be reached within two years: sometime during deliberations for the 2015 budget it will be abandoned altogether; or (an additional point I didn't have enough time to raise), Mr. Noonan will introduce a motion to either hire additional government staff for the narrow role of keeping zero-base budgeting alive or contract a firm to accomplish that.

Given the immediacy of Allen County's budgetary distress, such new spending – of potentially up-to $100,000 – for the sake of salvaging a campaign promise defies common sense.

Common sense can work in government. I simply ask my fellow residents to give it a chance.

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