It's all about getting more jobs, improving local economy
Hernando TodayThe issue: County Administrator David Hamilton's reorganization plan. Our opinion: Leave the "job-getting" structure in place.
Published: September 11, 2010
Published: September 11, 2010
County Administrator David Hamilton deserves high praise for the cost-cutting measures he has employed so far and we basically support his new plan to cut spending by reorganizing county government further.
However, we were strongly opposed to his initial strategy of putting business development under the control of the county's community development department, and the airport industrial park under the direction of the department of public works.
Although Community Development Director Jean Rags is an extremely competent and dedicated leader, she already has more than enough to say grace over. Giving her the additional burden of overseeing the county's most important department would be detrimental to the highest priority it deserves.
Business development, the building department, tourism and the airport industrial park are all integrated in a network that supports best practices of business development and job-getting.
When business leaders come to Hernando County to potentially establish a new base of operation, they need a champion to help them through that process.
The building department, the airport industrial park and tourism should all be under and managed together by business development.
Hamilton's newest plan calls for keeping tourism under the community development department.
Mike McHugh, the business development director, along with assistant Valerie Pianta, have done a good job of serving Hernando County taxpayers by straightening out many of the problems in the building department and fostering a culture of positive attitudes towards potential new business employers moving to Hernando County.
The idea of having Valerie Pianta and Ruby Turner working on tourism is a good idea as long as they are still working under the leadership of business development out of the same office. Many of the activities in business development require good graphics, planning and marketing, which Pianta and Turner have.
During this difficult economic time, balancing our tax base by bringing in more businesses with jobs should be our very top priority.
Leaving business development, the airport industrial park and tourism under the same umbrella and managed by McHugh would move Hernando County closer to those goals.
Although we believe the building department should be under the same umbrella, we acquiesce that moving it to the planning department could work.
We agree with the other changes Hamilton proposes in his reorganization plan and applaud him for them.
However, even if we need to find financial cuts elsewhere, the "job-getting business development" structure must be left in place especially now that our new home construction has tanked and driven our unemployment through the roof.
The other changes are right on the mark, and we would encourage county commissioners not to disrupt business development by splitting up any of the functions that department currently is responsible for.
Options for cuts in other areas could include instituting more furlough days, killing the ridiculous compensated absences policy and trimming employee benefits in other areas.
These are tough times that call for tough measures. The business community has been dealing with them for two years. Under Hamilton's leadership, we're confident the county is moving in the right direction to right-size government for the benefit of the taxpayers.
However, we encourage our county administrator and commissioners to keep the job-getting business development structure together.