I’ve have one critic who says you can’t run government like an efficient business. I disagree. An efficient business would not give a manager a 33% salary increase without giving this employee a formal performance evaluation. Nor would they award a five year contract based on past performance without putting in the contract performance improvements in the future. Monetary bonuses generally award past performance.
Most efficient businesses wouldn’t pay their managers based on what their competitors were paying their managers without knowing that they were making similar comparisons. They also would pay what they could afford to pay.
In this month’s issue of this Nations County News, the Classified Job Market lists the following administrative job openings:
A Parks and Recreation Department Director, Brevard County, Fl. Salary: $77,407 - $124,203 DOQ/DOE
A partial description of the job states that “The director manages a professional and administrative staff consisting of 458 permanent employees. The director manages a budget of $198,596,000 that includes operations, maintenance, land acquisition and capital construction.”
By comparison, Peoria Park District pays their administrator $130,000 plus. By further comparison, the administrator at PPD has a budget of $48,800,000 with approximately 150 permanent employees. Would you say the Peoria Park District is in line with Brevard County, Florida who has three times as many employees and four times the size of PPD’s budget?
It also lists County Administrator positions from $60,000 - $90, 000 in Wakulla County, Fl. and Orange County, North Carolina from $100,000 to $160,000.
I hope that the Peoria County Board and future boards realize that if salaries and benefits are based on the published job market offerings comparisons instead of affordability, job descriptions, benefits and performance, we perhaps should be paying our county administrator $160,000 or more. Money is always a factor in employee retention but it is only one of many criteria that an employee must evaluate before changing jobs and communities.
Yes, we can run our public bodies more like an efficient business in many ways. Efficient businesses do not and can not raise taxes when they spend more than they take in. Neither can they raise selling prices if the cost of their merchandise is more than the market will bear. They also have a payroll and benefits they must fund. Inefficient business go out of business, inefficient government creates more bureaucracies and raises taxes.
My experience with our administrator, Patrick Urich is that he accepts my business experience. I respect his efforts to get this county into a fiscally responsible position and I look forward to working with him on making Peoria County more effective and efficient for the next 4 1/2 years. I believe I was elected to use my experience to help make the Peoria County Board more fiscally responsible to the whole community and to make decisions based on facts as known.
However, by giving our County Administrator a guaranteed salary for the next five years, I believe the County Board has put him in a position to bargain more favorably with another county when and if he decides to move on. My recommendation was to boost him to $115,000 this year with a review and possible further raise for 2007. It was a majority decision of the board to stay with the $130,000. I hope it was the right decision and he is still aboard in 2011.