The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

December 4, 2013

Councilman: Slow down on Building and Neighborhood Services' reorganization

On Tuesday night, Nov. 26, City Administrator Jessica Kinser presented a four-page report to the Clinton City Council with a proposal to reorganize the Building Neighborhood Service Department and place the BNS Department under the control of the Clinton Fire Department.

The BNS Department has had significant management and organizational problems for several years. Plus, a lot of time and money has been spent in trying to make this department work; including the purchase of a building on Fifth Avenue that was never needed.

Kinser had four months to examine the BNS Department. Now, she offers the Clinton Fire Department as a last minute solution to the problem. Quite frankly, I expected better from Kinser. Why? Because city administrators are supposedly trained to offer various options when dealing with important problems.

Reorganizing the BNS Department is a major policy decision. There were clearly at least three options Kinser should have examined and presented to the council.

One: Draw up a plan predicated on using privatization. Examine various ways to contract the service out by hiring a private company or consulting firm to provide the service.

Two: Prepare a plan based on hiring qualified personnel, that have the educational background, and training that are needed to run this department. No matter what!

Three: Issue the report on using the Clinton Fire Department. This time include more detail and outline some of the important pros and cons of using the Fire Department.

There was absolutely nothing in this report regarding creative thoughts, ideas or suggestions as to how other options could save money. The report also lacked a great deal of key information on long-term cost, staffing, funding, fee structures, job descriptions, duties and much more for the BNS plan that was recommended.

The whole decision-making process revolved around one point, that Kinser was worried about some self-imposed Jan. 1 budget deadline. Budgets can be amended.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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