Sunday, December 28, 2008

Economic Downturn and Municipal Government: Global is Local

Surely we will all be affected by decision of the Federal and State Government in response to the economic downturn and its consequences. Many believe that local government is powerless to affect the overall economy, and must rather react to pressures adjusting policy accordingly. However, I believe that local officials also bear a responsibility to seek ways to address economic pressures. These are perhaps the single greatest threat to the quality of life of the people we serve.

Of course, we must scrutinize our budgets to curtail spending and avoid tax increases. Likewise, we must seek new revenue sources to offset the tax levy providing long term relief to our constituents. Further, we must streamline the delivery of services by local government using cutting edge technology where possible to reduce the financial burden associated with a demand for new or improved services to the public in a time of need. Lastly, government must look to share services among all levels of government, across town borders and regionally where appropriate. The individual taxpayer should pay a minimum required amount for the service received regardless of the government source of the service.

However, I believe the responsibility of local officials also extends to Stimulating Economic Growth. We must seek ways to stimulate the local economy in our towns, providing hope to our residents and businesses at a time when they so desperately need it. We must look forward bearing the past in mind and engage the public in discussion on the issues. It is difficult to lose hope while engaged in a project with a future goal. Hope can be restored to one who is desperate if a new plan is suggested and work is created as a result.

While we must first be concerned with economic activity within our town's borders, the overall economy can be supported by these grass roots efforts. For example, by attracting small to mid-sized businesses from a larger more expensive city to relocate in a small New Jersey town, local officials might be saving a business from closing its doors by offering a smaller rental payment and less demanding staffing alternatives, while creating jobs and rental income for constituents who might also be saved from desperation at a time of need.

I am sure that Federal and State Government needs all the help it can get. I believe global is local, and destiny is ours to dictate.