Local News

County wants to use economy as spur to be ‘great’

By February 13, 2011

Yolo supervisors will try to mimic the private sector this week as supervisors begin to sketch out a plan to streamline county government.

Supervisors meet for two days starting Monday in what has in recent years been the first crack at tackling multimillion budget deficits. The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Woodland Community and Senior Center, 2001 East St., Woodland.

Supervisors won’t focus on cutting budgets as they have in recent years, however, said County Administrator Patrick Blacklock. Instead, they’ll work with department directors to try to restructure how government serves the public. Can Yolo County reshape things to, at the same time, make things more efficient while providing better services?

That’s the question, Blacklock said. Just because the economy evaporated tax revenues that would have gone to county coffers, it “shouldn’t dissuade us from being a great organization.”

The bad economy and resultant hit on county coffers is inspiring a gut check: “Does our mission, do our values, do our leadership practices support the type of organization we want to be?” Blacklock asked.

Not as well as it could, he added. One area that needs improving is inspiring innovation. It’s one of the county’s core principles, but surveying employees revealed they’re not feeling it. “It’s an area that needs some attention,” he said.

He’s passing around abridged copies of “Good to Great,” a leadership text Blacklock said is highly respected in the private sector. He’s hoping it allows Yolo County to take its leadership skills to the next level.

This week’s workshops are about being proactive by taking a long-term view about what, how and why the county does what it does. It’s time to stop being reactive to lower tax revenues by cutting here one year, and then cutting there the next. This crisis, Blacklock said, is a chance to do things better while at the same time grappling with economic realities.

This workshop — “it’s a recognition that the organization has to change in substantial and structural ways to meet, adapt and be successful in this new fiscal world,” Blacklock said.

It’s also time to start exploring some ideas the county’s been kicking around. For example, Yolo could team up with the county’s four cities to, let’s say, provide affordable housing while all five organizations might be duplicating efforts now.

Internal adjustments could also yield savings, and just be a better way of doing things, Blacklock said. Smaller county departments, for example, do a lot of tasks that their brethren might do better and faster. For example, the auditor each year goes through a a human resources review. Human Resources performs an in-house audit annually. Each time, employees have to bone up on stuff they don’t really know.

Why not have the two departments swap jobs? The Auditor-Controller’s office could audit the Human Resources department, and Human Resources could do an HR review in return.

“We’re having to hit the reset button,” Blacklock said.

— Reach Jonathan Edwards at [email protected] or (530) 747-8052. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com


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