SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Out of control spending
By Ed Fry


April 22, 2007

Dear Viewpoints;

I certainly see the problems that are clear with out of control spending (and supported by Mr. Thompson). The Borough is very solipsistic in the way that they throw money around, deficit spending. The North Tongass Fire Department can't even get a Capitol Improvement Line for their budget should large purchases be needed. Instead, they have to go to the Borough and ask for more money. If there is a surplus by responsible spending it is sent to "accelerated debt pay-off" at the expense of the residents.

I see a need for the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) to be consulted to help governments solve complex problems of the Borough Budget. It would give a clear, unbiased framework of the spending patterns of the Borough. In their consultation (and from their website), we can answer and discover several things such as:

The GFOA Research and Consulting Center can help you to answer the following questions:

  • How does the government's current and future debt position rank, compared to a peer group of similar jurisdictions?
  • How do debt issuance plans affect future debt affordability measures?
  • Would a shift in interest rates significantly impact the debt service structure or debt position in the long term?
  • What policies can be implemented to preserve financing flexibility and avoid becoming overburdened?

GFOA staff can help design a performance measurement system with varying degrees of linkages to strategic plans, operational situations, and the annual budget with the following:

  • A clearly articulated link between performance measurement and the organization's strategic goals.
  • Integration of performance measures with the budget process.
  • Outcome/results-oriented performance measures at the operations level.
  • An implementation plan for performance measurement.
  • Training sessions and materials for application of performance measures.
  • Assistance with client-specific needs such as articulating strategic goals, implementation assistance, and facilitation toward creating/refining policies related to performance measurement.

Debt capacity studies:

  • Strengthen capital and long-term financial planning;
  • Provide a better understanding of a jurisdiction's current debt position and the impact of alternative funding scenarios on its future position;
  • Analyze/support creative approaches to long term financing within the guidelines of legislative authority, staff skill sets, the characteristics of revenues that support debt issues; and
  • Enable prudent debt management through the adoption of a formal debt policy.

A GFOA cutback management program produces the following deliverables/results:

  • Assessment of a deficit situation as either a temporary imbalance or a long-term structural deficit.
  • Identification of conflicting organizational policies or goals that have led to a structural deficit situation.
  • Financial projections to communicate the consequences of inaction, and the long-term impact of cutback decisions in the current period.
  • Alternatives analysis to identify resource enhancements and/or service reduction scenarios.
  • Recommendations to achieve fiscal balance within the character and mission of the government.

A multi-year budgeting project produces the following deliverables/results:

  • Recommended elements of an effective multi-year budget framework.
  • Revenue and expenditure forecasting methods that will support the multi-year budget process.
  • Enhanced long term planning through a multi-year perspective at the operations or department levels
  • Improved program monitoring and reduced 'opportunism' often found in annual budget processes.
  • Departmental incentive structures to encourage long-term decision-making effectiveness.
  • Suggested financial policies relevant to the multi-year budget process.

A GFOA organizational review produces the following deliverables/results:

  • An assessment to determine the role of the Finance function in the organization, or sub-functions within the department.
  • A departmental structure analysis to determine "as is" areas of responsibility and coordination.
  • A benchmarking analysis to evaluate structures and divisions of labor in comparable organizations.
  • Staff workload and skill set evaluation.
  • An organizational and management policy review will address the questions: Are adequate policies in place? Are they applied consistently? Do policy conflicts exist? Do policies foster efficiencies, innovation, and staff development?
  • Review and evaluation, or drafting, of a management philosophy.

Once all said and done, some establishment of an accountability system with the GFOA and the formation of the "Ketchikan Borough Taxpayers Association" will be needed to keep the Borough on the straight and narrow without going crazy again with impulsive, deficit spending. It is time to bring accountability for the taxpayer, with responsible government at a fair price.

Ask the Borough how much is left in the land trust that comes due next year? Who is going to pay for that SNAFU?

Loud and proud against deficit spending.

Ed Fry, III
North Tongass Resident
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 21, 2007 - Published April 22, 2007


Related Viewpoint:

letter KGB Budget Review By Glen Thompson - Ketchikan, AK



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