Setting the budget is the most important thing Quorum Court does. As an affordable housing advocate, I’m against big surprise increases in the millage. They should be an absolute last resort. Large millage increases often get passed on to renters, making housing less affordable. JPs should first look at ways to balance the budget through internal cost savings.
It might be time for a county-wide independent Organizational Assessment, to see what can be modernized and streamlined. The Fayetteville Housing Authority did one two years ago, and it was enormously helpful. The new Executive Director renegotiated vendor contracts, reallocated overhead, and updated technology. The office was still using typewriters for some things and not everyone had an email address. Now the maintenance staff uses iPads to track work orders and stay efficient. This has all freed up more money to spend on programs and services.
I also believe in valuing the workforce. When workers don't get annual cost of living raises, you tend to lose valuable people. I know how hard it is as a government agency to compete with what people can make in the private sector, especially in Northwest Arkansas’s strong economy.