On an annual basis the San Diego County Taxpayer Association (SDCTA) holds an event to honor the best and worst in tax spending associated with local government. This year’s event was held at the San Diego Marriott Marques Hotel and Marina on May 9th, 2013. The organization focuses on government efficiency, accountability, and decision making abilities of local leaders over the past year. The event draws a large crowd and sponsors due to its inherently interesting information and context. It is hard to know who is going to get a flower and who is going to get a boot.
The association spends a great deal of time crunching numbers and reviewing public spending. Through this number crunching they often find hundreds of millions of dollars of wasteful spending. They make their nominations for the Golden Fleece awards and call out such organizations by name. Their approach appears to be somewhat bi-partisan in its methodology which may be one of the reasons why it is so popular. The prize was a small stuffed sheep.
It is these groups like this that hold local government responsible for how it spends taxpayer money. There were some great suggestions leaders should come away with. One of these lessons was to tie the debt to the life of the purchase. For example, the buying of electronic systems for children’s education should not have a repayment plan that spans out into the future over the life of the product because costs may explode 8 or 10 times the value of the investment. The same concept applies across many other purchasing areas.
The other lesson was more positive in terms of its outcome. By finding efficiencies in local government it is possible to save a lot of money. The example provided was a call box that was moved to the San Diego Association of Governments. The total savings were around $4 million dollars that could be used for other needed purchases or spending requirements.
It is important for governmental leaders to understand that the money they spend is not theirs. They are only stewards of that money and have the highest responsibility to make sure it is spent wisely. When people are elected their greater responsibility becomes to the community versus the needs of one's social group. When these interests coincide that is great but when they do not an ethical choice must be made. A true leader can make that choice.
More importantly, it is necessary to look at each governmental entity to ensure that they are proper stewards of the people’s money. If we were to expand the wastes or potential savings across the nation it may have a huge influence on our economic viability. Practical spending and potential solutions are key elements of management and leadership. Every governmental entity can find something beneficial to change. Yet that change must first come from the way we think and then how we see our responsibilities.
On a less serious note there were some great prizes offered for raffle winners. Sports box seats, vacation, Sea World tickets, a wine set, and much more. I had my hopes set on the $1,500 wine set but....lady luck was not with me.
If you would like to join SDCTA please click HERE