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Letter: Our government reward system is flawed

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What does the community really want?

Most public administrators are recognized with salary increases and promotions when they are credited with expanding staff or building something. Thus, a new library, school, water plant, road, park or bridge, etc., becomes the pride of the individual responsible for its creation.

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Plaques are proudly displayed in the entries, and officially attended ribbon cutting ceremonies are widely publicized. This brings about new job opportunities for those involved, and this build and expand cycle often continues elsewhere.

We all want to leave our mark on the agency or the community we serve, and leaving some material structure behind not only provides individual satisfaction for those involved, but often for an entire community. Thus, a real dilemma for any government leader is created from the first day they are elected or hired. Reducing excess staff, renovating or expanding existing facilities rather than building elaborate new ones, or pushing to reduce non-productive programs, all ideas that would save the taxpayer money are simply not goals that will be meaningfully rewarded.

A community or agency can not have it both ways; demand progress and modernization, but not at any financial cost. School boards, city councils and entire communities, must struggle with this conflict, come to a resolution and then hire and direct the responsible party to this new

consensus goal. If the objective is to reduce spending then this goal must be clearly delineated and reasonably obtainable. More importantly, administrators who succeed in cutting budgets, must be just as rewarded and recognized in the community as those that built something. Without clearly defined goals to the contrary, administrators will always move toward the

tried and true method of recognition and reward by increasing construction,expanding staff and budgets. Without specific direction, this existing reward system combined with community pride, will always unwittingly conspire to overreach and overspend.

Joe Butler

Bemidji

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