Steve Chucri: Closing a year of smart government

My view: Closing a year of smart government

Originally posted on: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/print-edition/2015/12/18/my-view-closing-a-year-of-smart-government.html

By Steve Chucri, Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors

Not a day goes by without reading another story of a looming crisis requiring governments to make large investments in education, pensions, border control, transportation, new prisons and more.

At Maricopa County, we face many of those challenges and demands, but understand that we cannot saddle our taxpayers with increasing property tax burdens. Instead we continue to apply strict fiscal discipline and a business mindset to everything we do. We’re a county that must focus on needs, not wants.

We are proud to have an amazing group of leaders to guide Maricopa County on a continued path of true economic recovery. Part of that success is because we continue to partner closely with state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and constituents.

Many point to local government as the engine of change for the next 20 years, the place where citizens are more likely to see innovative policy, proactive energy and transformative reforms. Maricopa County is on the precipice of pursuing tomorrow’s potential, right now. We are looking inward — not only at what we do at the county level, but who is doing the work.

Personnel reform: As chairman, I was proud to launch a groundbreaking personnel reform effort this year. The goals: Making the county’s workforce more accountable and efficient, competitive and productive. This was no small feat as we significantly cut bureaucratic red tape so the county can move quickly to hire the best job applicants. Now we are rewarding performance while giving management the flexibility to work with those who are struggling to execute.

Smart Justice: More than half of the county’s $2 billion budget is committed to public safety and the justice system. So it’s no surprise the board and county management gives this a great deal of attention. “Smart Justice” slows the revolving door of crime by promoting the right treatment at the right level in the jail system. This maximizes the chance of rehabilitation and decreases the likelihood one will reoffend.

Technology trends: For the first time, the supervisors meetings are streamed over the Internet. This can dramatically affect how citizens interact with the county, enabling better communication and an increase in public trust. We are also embarking on a mission to rebuild our massive website so it better serves citizens.

This year, Maricopa County government agencies won 47 individual achievement awards, the most in the nation, from the National Association of Counties. The NACo awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services, create efficiencies and save taxpayers money. I often talk about Maricopa County being “Best in Class.” We are gaining that reputation nationally.

Today, we can pivot to the future, confident the direction we have started to take will lead to a more transparent, engaged, data-driven focus on an efficient delivery of services people need and expect.

Steve Chucri, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, can be reached at 602-506-7431.

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