March 14, 2014--Over the past several years, the Martin County Taxpayers Association has prodded Martin County government to find ways to be more productive and efficient in the services it provides to the taxpayers. We believe that our government has not yet maximized the use of the resources given to them. By comparison, here’s why.
In a report produced by the Swedish government in 2013, it articulated five core goals it believes will “grow and renew their economy.” We believe these same goals apply to Martin County. The following are the goals articulated in the Swedish study that we recommend as challenges to Martin County during the next 5-10 years.
Goal 1: Increase productivity in the public sector. The Swedish government set a goal of improving productivity by 25 percent to 30 percent over the next 10 years. While we cannot and should not set goals for the county, we do believe that the leadership of the county should determine similar goals in collaboration with the county administrator and the superintendent of schools. Calls for improvement in the Swedish report are in the areas of the “quality of products and services, consolidation of structure in public administration and the establishment of a center of excellence for public procurement.”
Goal 2: Improve the growth in local services through deregulation and regulatory reform. This is the easiest target, but the most difficult to achieve. But, delivering high quality services and reducing cost lessens the burden on taxpayers, expands the business community and the tax base and opens the door to reducing the bureaucracy needed to administer it. The Swedish report states “the nation (substitute county) should consider systematically eliminating growth-inhibiting regulations; industry by industry though a joint effort of politician, employers and trade unions.” The county could do the same if there is the political will to do so.
Goal 3: Sustain growth through increased innovation and productivity. The will to innovate must be precipitated by an enlightened leadership as well as the desire of employees to make it happen. Studies show that new ideas and ways to increase productivity only come from those who ask for it and by those who are challenged to deliver. Studies in the United States show that in most workgroups (private or public) that productivity is far less than 100 percent and thus the opportunity to fill this huge gap is there to be filled.
Goal 4: Make the county a leader in education. By current standards, the Martin County School District is already a leader. However, there are still many ways in which the district can exceed its own reputation. The Swedish report states “to reverse the failings of the educational system, improving the skills of teachers and school leaders and to improve significantly teacher-coaching programs and ways to prove the profession” are goals that have not yet been reached. The same applies to the Martin County School District.
Goal 5: Increase the share of the population that is employed. This should be a major goal of the county, the Business Development Board and the School District. Martin County has the ability to create a welcoming environment conducive to job creation, however, it has a long way to go in aligning the necessary resources, the cultural climate and the political acumen that are attractive to new employers.
In summary, we believe the county should use the Swedish report as a guidepost for examining ways in which the county government can be better than it already is and develop into a model for all Florida to see.