Business as usual is no longer tolerable

In spite of the best efforts of many of our local governments, the unemployment rate in Western New York is now above 9 percent and most communities continue to deal with budget deficits and the need to raise taxes. This depressing reality reminds me of the saying: When the federal government sneezes, state governments catch a cold; and when state governments catch a cold, local governments take to their beds.

I suggest that given the extent of our rising federal and state deficits, in conjunction with the non-funded mandates and imposed regulations from the federal and state governments, our local governments have just begun to climb into their beds. And although some of the worst effects of the recession are showing signs of improvement in our national economy, we must not forget that there is always a delay from the time commercial organizations emerge from an economic downturn and public funds recover. The road to full recovery for the public sector, therefore, will be a long and treacherous one, especially at the local level.

If we are to weather this economic malaise, which is likely to continue for many years, our local governments simply must deliver more value with less money. This will require them to cut costs and become leaner and more efficient without suffering any degradation in services; no, while delivering the improved services the public demands. Business as usual is no longer tolerable. The time has come for the people’s business to be strategically and innovatively managed instead of being transacted according to past practice. Now more than ever our local governments must do the right work, the right way, with the right leadership.

Michael J. Sherry

Orchard Park