-Parks and Recreation funding should be limited to what it takes to operate and maintain our most used parks and programs and the lesser used (over half of them) should be closed. Manpower should be limited to minimum operational requirements. All parks and recreation capital projects should be frozen until financial ability and growth trigger further expansion. This will save over $250,000 annually.
-We pay over $250,000 a year to rent our libraries. The rent arrangement for the Main St. Library is an unethical back door funding mechanism for a non-profit organization (That organization is the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust) and is not a fair and transparent way to spend tax dollars. As a first step, the library at Hayes should be closed and funds normally appropriated for its operation and rent should be diverted to a library construction fund. Owning our libraries will save over $200,000 annually, after depositing $50,000 annually into a maintenance and expansion fund.
-Last year I called for the elimination of the Community Education Department. (Instead of eliminating it, more money was dumped into it and the name was changed to the Department of Community Engagement.) I also called for returning the department’s functions back to schools, social services, County administration, human resources, IT and the various non-profit organizations the department supports. I suggested moving the director to the planning department. (I now feel the position should be eliminated all together.) This will yield an annual savings of at least $350,000. (If the director position is eliminated the savings would be over $100,000 more than the $350,000 I suggested last year.)
-Animal Control should be reorganized into a reactionary department and patrolling should cease. This will make the department more citizen friendly. Staff should be limited to two officers. The Sheriff’s dept. dispatcher should receive incoming calls and dispatch the officers as needed. This will save over $100,000 annually.
-What to do with our bus garage and old Page properties is being considered. It has been rumored that selling all or part of the properties is the best option. Considering our substantial infrastructure needs and need for consolidation, any option to sell the properties does not seem to be fiscally responsible, in the best interest of managing our assets or taking care of our employees.
These properties afford us the ideal location to consolidate county and school functions. We should expand our bus garage and consolidate all school and county transportation functions under one fleet director employed by the County. We should consolidate all of our school and County public works, buildings and grounds and janitorial type functions under one director employed by the County. Utilities has money to purchase property for of a new yard and office. It should be used to begin the consolidation process by moving Utilities to the old Page property. (The County and our public school system continue to kick this can down the road. Someone wants the old Page and school bus garage properties and
taxpayers are going to end up on the short end of the
stick if we allow the property to be sold. As it stands now, tens of thousands
of dollars have been spent to do a study on where a consolidated facility
should be located. The County and schools have limited the amount of land that
can be used at the old Page and bus garage properties by focusing the study on
using only ½ of the property. Even after imposing that restriction, the study
determined that the old Page and bus garage property is the most economical location
out of three locations that were considered. I have been telling them for three
years for free, what they have now spent tens of thousands of our local tax
dollars to learn.) Gloucester
-All IT and financial functions should also be consolidated under one director per department and employed by the County. All of the mentioned consolidations will lead to a savings of over $1 million annually. (I now believe these functions should also be consolidated on the old Page and bus garage property.)
Total potential savings from these few suggestions would be in the neighborhood of $2,000,000 annually. Unfortunately, not enough People in
are speaking out against the unnecessary spending of
tax dollars. There is an ongoing effort to bring industrial and other types of
businesses to Gloucester . They claim we need to generate more revenue to ease
the tax burden. Generating more revenue in the manner they are attempting will
result in more local government and higher taxes. Gloucester enjoys one of the lowest real estate tax rates
around, but it continues to inch up. When government grows, taxes rates
generally increase in feet instead of inches. Gloucester
will eventually release his proposed budget for next
year. I will let you know when he does. I bet they will be asking for seven or
more cents again. In the meantime, here is the web address to the County budget that
was approved last year. County Administrator
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Kenny Hogge, Sr.