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Sounding Off: City must face limits

As Laguna faces budgetary woes, we are not unlike many other American small towns. Our limited financial and physical resources are stressed by the economy. The loss of city revenue requires innovation and better management of all available resources.

We should question if Laguna’s resources are being properly allocated and managed under prevailing economic conditions. Can we modernize the means of delivery and management of city services to be more cost effective without measurably sacrificing the quality of service?

Do we have so many city ordinances to be enforced so that our enforcers are overburdened and enforcement is ineffective? Should we “trash can" ineffective or unenforced regulations? Could we cease enacting new ones that may be overly idealistic or unaffordable in these times? It is hard to abandon anyone’s pet project in the face of financial hardship, no matter how grand and noble that project may be, but hard times require hard choices.

This is not the Laguna Beach of 10 or 20 years ago. This is 2010, and we can’t afford business as usual at City Hall. Times have changed, and the ways cities are managed have changed. Many small cities have adopted “outsourcing" (a nasty word at City Hall) as a more cost-effective and more efficient way to deliver services.

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Others have sought more efficient and less costly ways to manage their limited physical and financial resources.

It does not require thinking that is outside the box to understand that our city management must come into the 21st century. We cannot continue to “pull money out of a hat" or to borrow funds allocated to one city budgetary account to use elsewhere. We cannot anticipate that there can be any financial assistance from state or federal governments. We are on our own now. It’s sink or swim, and a potential financial tsunami looms offshore.

It is an absolute necessity that we thoroughly reexamine the management and allocation of our city’s financial and physical assets, and all of our city services and their means of delivery. Nothing should be off limits, and no one should be immune from review.

The goal should be to maximize the long-term cost effectiveness and efficiency of our city’s limited resources.

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DON KNAPP lives in Laguna Beach.


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