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  • Writer's pictureBruce Mattare

New "Dashboard" Reveals Health of County Services



Great News!


We finally released a creation of mine: The Growth Dashboard of County Service Levels (click here).


You see, in the private sector the best managers rely on good information. The better the information, the better the decisions that can be made for the organization.


The same concept holds true for your County government. But in this situation, we didn't have any good feedback loops of County services...until now!


Here's the "Skinny" on the New County Dashboard


The idea was to create a simple page where you could quickly see where County services are compared to industry standards. If we were providing services at (or near to) the standard, then you would see a green indicator.


If we are stretched (or in a critical zone), then you will see yellow or red, respectively. The more we're stretched the greater the possibility county liability is increased. Greater liability means your taxes could be affected if we have a bad accident or two. We don't want that.


Further, when you click on the colored indicator button, a popup appears that gives you more detail about that County department. This way you can see what is making the indicator a certain color (i.e., green, yellow or red).



Now you can see the exact stats for that month or quarter, so you can understand where your County service levels are, compared to industry and/or legal standards. In the image above you can easily see that our jail is OVERCROWDED.


Our legal limit is only 361 inmates but we're at 472. That population count fluctuates daily and has been above 550 on occasion.


The problem for jails when you get overcrowding is inmates are forced to sleep on the floor (which I don't mind that much), but the opportunity for somebody to get hurt increases substantially as a result of that. Further, overcrowding leads to "gang hierarchy," which also leads to a greater likelihood of violence. I do care about that because when people get hurt in jail, the County pays for medical bills and risks litigation, payouts and the possibility of a consent decree. These are all things I do mind and don't want to ever see happen here.


If you click on the link CLICK AND LEARN MORE, you can see even more detail about the department and position.



After you click on the link you are taken to a dedicated web page that provides more charts and greater detail about the department. See below.




So How Does This Dashboard Help with Growth


You see, county commissioners can say "NO" temporarily to more growth today if there's a legitimate numerical reason to say no. Up until this dashboard, we didn't have a legitimate numerical reason to temporarily say no.


Growth is inevitable and I have not met anyone here who has said it must stop. However, as stewards of the County budget, rapid and irresponsible growth has adverse consequences on this community and its County services.


The reality is that growth does not pay for itself. You pay for it (click here). Giving planners and commissioners the tools necessary to make smart growth decisions is in the community's best interest.


What is The Single Biggest Driver Behind Big Government?


Population growth!


When the community grows, so too must government. You cannot avoid it.


Our County has about 850 employment positions. When the community was only 50,000 residents it was a lot less. If the community grows to over 400,000 residents (that's what is projected in the next one to two decades), County -- and city -- government will continue to grow...and so too will your taxes.


When we grow too fast County services cannot keep up, especially with public safety (currently at about 2/3 of our entire budget). Sometimes it can take years to catch up but it also costs you more money to build the infrastructure, often a lot more.


This is why it makes common sense to have a dashboard to help tell us where County service levels are with our current population. If County services are not operating at or near industry standards, then it only makes sense to temporarily pause additional growth until such services are caught up, along with other departments if needed.


There's Another Benefit with the Dashboard


YOU get to know what's happening in YOUR COUNTY GOVERNMENT.


That's right. It's your government and you're paying for it. You should be able to see if the county commissioners (along with the other elected officials) are addressing critical issues. If not, then those people should be questioned. If they are ensuring proper operating metrics, then you will know if they are doing a good job.


So, please check out where your County services are today . I can tell you we have a lot of red and yellow indicators, but the first step toward fixing these problems is to see where we are today.



This is a work in progress and will continually be updated and improved.


If you like this content, please share it with friends and neighbors and THANK YOU for your support.

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2 Comments


Jason Deegan
Jason Deegan
Mar 11

Wow, really fantastic.

Like

phorestgrn
Mar 11

Thank you

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