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Local manufacturers association recommends specifics to avoid tax increases

The board of directors of the First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA) has provided a list of cost-cutting recommendations to Mayor John Peyton and City Council Finance Committee Chairman Stephen Joost in order to avoid property tax increases in Duval County.

The list covers recommendations concerning the city’s operations, budget processes, employee benefits and salaries, and outsourcing, divided into the 2009–2010 budget year, as well as beyond 2010.

“Through hands-on experience and interaction with the city by our members, our association committees have found that the best way to address costs in government is by an evaluation and improvement of the city’s process and management practices,” explained Ron Avery, FCMA Tri-Chairman and CEO of The Ronco Group.

“There are redundancies in the system; department heads should be given more autonomy while still being held accountable to established goals and budgets; and additional oversight should be sought through the private sector,” Avery added.

Several of FCMA budget recommendations include:

• Eliminating positions and departments that duplicate services offered by the state or federal government;

• Privatizing some departmental operations, such as the motor pool;

• Combining departments with similar activities, such as purchasing and information technology; • Establishing a joint committee of Mayor and Council to determine the core mission of local government;

• Appointing a taskforce that includes department heads, business representatives, and other citizens to evaluate government processes with the goal of improving deliverables as established above

• Establishing a budgetary review commission to begin preparation of a multi-year budget;

• Focusing attention on the major items in the budget, beginning with payroll and benefits, which constitute approximately 60% of the total budget; 

• Implementing an across the board payroll reduction, with no department or operation exempt;

• Considering a mandatory 2%–5% reduction in actual headcount, with no exceptions;

• Conducting an annual salary and benefit schedule that compares city employees, including fire and police, with the private sector;

• Restructuring all pensions plans to a defined contribution program for all new hires beginning Oct. 1, 2009;

• Not allowing any retiree to maintain cash accounts with a guaranteed return in the pension plan;

• Flattening the organizational structure by eliminating management layers;

• Focusing on processes as opposed to manpower levels;

• Outsourcing or privatizing specific departments, such as the motor pool;

• Not implementing any capital improvement without an allocation for ongoing maintenance and operation;

•Using existing private facilities for governmental operations with the objective of combining operations in the future to eliminate the need for permanent space.

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