This article appeared in the March 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
With the Legislature in session it seems we spend a lot of time defending “local control” and fighting “unfunded mandates.” Each year we get a different set of rules that limit our ability to deliver services expected by the taxpayers while doing so with less revenue.
After each session, we find ourselves asking: “What can we do to meet the mounting obligations with less money?” Each time we are frustrated by the outcome. Education of our legislative members is certainly one way to lessen the overall pain by demonstrating to them the valuable services cities are providing to their communities and the state. But, we should continue to search for solutions within our own cities and by working with other cities. Despite the individual nature of each city, many cites feel the same “pain points,” and by working together they can solve their mutual problems.
This takes trust and commitment. In order for the cities to be successful in the future we must have a cooperative spirit and trust that we can do better by working with each other regardless of the issue. From LOST, SPLOST and Service Delivery, we have the opportunity to enrich the lives of each citizen if we do this wisely and by trusting our other city leaders. Citizens don’t know all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into city government; they just see the end result. They are trusting city leaders to “do government right” so they can carry on their daily business without having to think about what their city is doing or, in some cases, not doing.
There is no magic wand or silver bullet that solves each problem, but think of all the knowledge that others have gained over the years and how we can use that knowledge to make each situation much better. This idea is not new nor does it only work in our state. All over the country there are cities working together to make cities better and they will continue to do so.
In order for our cities to be the best, we have to be engaged with our neighbors and with the expertise that is available. With collaboration comes more risk but not if we make good decisions and try to “raise all boats rather than just ours!” Spend your time wisely and develop good neighbors as they will help us all move forward with better answers and a better tomorrow.