Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 9

DIRECTOR'S DESK

Keeping Your Eye on the Basics
(of Good Government)

By Dave Wills
Executive Director
IT WAS 1993, in Orlando, Florida.
Jack Nicklaus was retelling his experience
of 1954, when he was just 14 years old. He was
coming off of a golf course during a pouring
rainstorm when he noticed a golfer still on the
course, hitting balls in a driving rain. He said
the man continued to pound balls out, one after
the other. Nicklaus asked a man in the pro shop
who the guy on the range was. "Oh, that's our
defending champion, Arnold Palmer," was the
reply. - Taken from "It Takes a Small Army to
Equal Arnie," New York Times 2017.
Arnold Palmer is remembered as one
of golf's greatest figures. He played in
50  Master's tournaments, won the green
jacket four times, and had a total of 95 professional wins. He was a consummate professional at his game. But he was pounding out
balls on the range while it was pouring rain!
Need I suggest why?
On the first day of every odd-numbered
year, a contingent of newly elected county
commissioners officially take office, poised
to serve their respective communities to the
best of their abilities. Likely without exception, each one is idealistic and desirous of
implementing changes he or she believes to
be in the best interest of their citizens. While
every newly elected county commissioner
aspires to do great things, I think it advisable
to always ensure that necessary things, the
basics, are first addressed.
In my previous role as ACCG's Government
Relations Manager, I traveled the state extensively and worked on a very broad range of
issues. The experience allowed me to observe
many things, among them being the way that
commissioners wrestled with tough issues
such as managing the county budget when
revenues were not sufficient to meet all
needs. As a result of my observations and
reflections upon them, I created a graphical representation modeled on Maslow's

I created the graphic illustration because I
recognized that when revenues cannot meet
demands for county services, the public generally wants to preserve the desired and essential services at the expense of the foundational
services, flipping the pyramid over to focus
Hierarchy for Service Delivery
County commissioners with tenure underfirst on those that are desired. And though
stand that counties must fund services
commissioners generally want to meet
mandated by the United States' and
public demands, as previously stated,
Georgia's constitutions, by statute
they do not have authority to not fund
and by case law. But very often
mandatory services. What is a
these fundamental services
county commissioner to do?
are less than glamorous
The answer to the preand frequently go
ceding question is to
unrecognized by
keep an eye on the
many citizens
basics. Just like
Arnold Palmer
who thus lack
Graphical representation of how county
practicing in
appreciation
funds should be allocated.
for the serthe rain in order
vices. Examples include funding operations
to be the best player he could possibly be, comfor constitutional officers, paying for indigent
missioners would be well-advised to repetilegal defense, etc. Commissioners may have
tively talk about and focus on the foundational
some flexibility about the level of funding to
elements of county services. Emphasize to your
provide, but they do not have the prerogative
citizens the requirement to pay for mandated
to not provide the service. Understanding this
services. Emphasize the value of services such
fact is basic to the success of serving as a
as law enforcement, courts, public health,
county commissioner.
roads, streets and bridges, and all of the othNon-mandated, essential services reside
ers that most, if not all, of us take for granted.
in the middle tier. These services are likely
Hopefully, the economy will remain strong
expected by almost all citizens. Examples
and counties will have adequate financial
resources for the foreseeable future, but
include collection and disposal of solid waste,
the provision of Emergency Medical Services,
undoubtedly the time will again come when
911 service, etc. Even though county comtough decisions have to be made, to not fund
missioners are not required to fund these
desired or essential services at a level the pubservices, they do because citizens expect,
lic expects. Will you as a county commissioner,
even demand, them. These services are often
particularly those of you who have just entered
more visible to and appreciated by the public.
office, be prepared to explain to a demanding
At the top of the pyramid are what I
public the choices you are faced with, cogently
captioned as desired services. These
describing the competing issues? If you keep
your eye on the basics, if you gain a comprenon-mandated, non-essential services are
highly desired though some would argue they
hensive understanding of what services fall
are essential. Examples include county recinto each category and how you must allocate
reation programs, economic and community
funding, I believe you will be able to effectively
development services, etc.
answer even the most difficult questions posed
At this point, I am pretty sure I have stepped
to you by your constituents. Effective, efficient
on some toes. Some readers may assert that
government is rooted in the basics. Always
a desired service is actually an essential serremember to keep your eye on the basics when
vice, and may even dissect my premise. But
making the decisions that impact your ability
please hear me out.
to produce good government.
■
Hierarchy of Needs, a psychology theory
and classification system that reflects the
universal needs of society-showing how
funds should be allocated.

SPRING 2019 www.accg.org

9


http://www.accg.org

Georgia County Government - Spring 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Spring 2019

President’s Message
Director's Desk
Ethics on the Edge
Avoid Property Tax Increases by Managing Revenues
EPD’s STAR Program Keeps Georgia Counties and Rights-of-Ways Clean
2019 ACCG Annual Conference Preview
College Underserved Community Partnership Program
Hurricane Michael: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Working with Hard-to-Count Communities
Reduce the Friction with a County-Wide Community Development System
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Intro
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover1
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover2
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 3
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 4
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 5
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 6
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - President’s Message
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 8
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Director's Desk
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Ethics on the Edge
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 11
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 12
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 13
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Avoid Property Tax Increases by Managing Revenues
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 15
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - EPD’s STAR Program Keeps Georgia Counties and Rights-of-Ways Clean
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 17
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 2019 ACCG Annual Conference Preview
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 19
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - College Underserved Community Partnership Program
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 21
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Hurricane Michael: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 23
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 24
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Working with Hard-to-Count Communities
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 26
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 27
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 28
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 29
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 30
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Reduce the Friction with a County-Wide Community Development System
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - 32
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - News & Notes
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover3
Georgia County Government - Spring 2019 - cover4
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