Out of control spending
By Ed Fry
April 22, 2007
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
- Integration of performance
measures with the budget process.
- Outcome/results-oriented performance
measures at the operations level.
- An implementation plan for
- 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
Debt capacity studies:
- Strengthen capital and long-term
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Ed Fry, III
North Tongass Resident
Received April 21, 2007 - Published April 22, 2007
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
Budget Review By Glen Thompson - Ketchikan, AK
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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