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Letter to the Editor: Managing resources to deliver excellent service
Chris Gaines
Chris Gaines. - photo by For the Dawson County News

Public safety is extremely important to me and I don’t take the responsibility of funding it lightly. In 2018, Dawson County will spend 47 percent of the total budget on public safety. It is the number one priority and receives more funding than any other area.

This year the sheriff’s office received a higher increase than any other department funded by the county. This funding increase is the largest single year increase received by the sheriff’s office in more than five years. While some have implied that Dawson County has decreased our investment in public safety, in reality, we have increased our financial commitment to keeping our community safe.

When the 2018 budget was adopted it used 100 percent of revenue (the county’s income) plus over $1 million in reserves. We are not holding funding back for any department, and we are not flush with cash... the budget was and is based on spending every dollar we take in plus some. Another way to say this is revenue is not exceeding the expenses and we still have needs.

Yes, I agree with the sheriff that the needs are great. Another prime example is that a recent roads department staffing study shows a need of 24 people on staff, but they have only nine and are doing an incredible job with what they have.

As we have constantly stated, when revenues increase, so does our ability to address not only the valid needs of the sheriff’s office but also the valid needs across the whole county organization.

The reality is that we are still digging out of a period of recession and are in a state of pre-growth that has yet to fill coffers with enough funds to meet all these needs by 2018. The process of climbing out of the huge financial hole created by the recession is much slower and more gradual than any of us would like. The only quick fix solution would be to raise the millage rate, but I believe there are more responsible options. Over the last year, I, along with other county officials and employees, have worked to explore possible options that attempt to keep the burden off property tax payers.

At my core I am fiscally conservative and will not apologize for that. I’m a tax payer like each of you and want the best value for your and my tax dollar. I challenge every department on a regular basis to be efficient and strive for excellence in everything they do with the resources they are provided.

In business and in life I have found that not all problems can be solved by throwing more money at them. Often times, the solution is just a matter of thinking outside the box and searching for new and innovative ideas while better managing the resources provided. This is how small companies with small budgets are able to compete and be successful against large big budget corporations. I see the struggles and opportunities in our county government to be no different.

My hope is that we find ourselves at the end of a challenge having all learned from the past and that we will move forward, together, to do what we have all been called to do which is serve this great community to the very best of our ability.

Chris Gaines

District 2 Commissioner

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