I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Thoughts on Assuming the Chairmanship

As I prepare to assume the chairmanship of the Board of County Commissioners, I want to reflect on my thoughts on this transition and the year ahead of us.

This past year has been one of the best years of my life, I love this job, and I remain humbled by your support and confidence.  I will try to do the best I can to earn your continued support-but if you disagree with me on something—call me!  Let’s talk, let’s meet & I’ll listen!

Last year we struggled with many challenges as a community, and we have persevered.  Many of the challenges remain, and there will be many more to come no doubt.  But as a board, I see great potential in our combined ability to lead and solve many of these complex problems going forward. 

The greatest single challenge that lies ahead is our budget.  We’re under severe pressure for a number of reasons, and maintaining fiscally conservative stewardship of your money will be our number one priority.  With an expanded homestead exemption waiting in the wings (which will cost the county roughly $5 Million in lost revenue) we’ll start out with even less recurring revenue.  Because I believe we must live within our means, I won’t support raising the millage rate on Escambia County Property owners—which means we must increase our tax base with intelligent, business-friendly decisions that foster growth.

Another concern is our jail.  We’ve selected a firm, the plans are set, and this facility should be completed within the next 26 Months.  In addition to finishing our new jail, I am laser focused on finding creative ways to safely reduce our costs associated with running this facility.

Economic development is another important topic that is crucial to our area.  As the Pensacola area continues to diversify her employer base, more jobs will become available, and employment outcomes for residents will continue to improve-- but we must continue to strive for jobs diversification in our area.  Manufacturing, high-tech jobs, and continued maintenance and growth of the small business sector are vital.  We will focus on diversification while simultaneously supporting the final stages of acquiring OLF8 in Beulah to further add to our jobs base.  

Finally, I look forward to making the process of government more efficient and civil. 

Every hour we meet, our staff is idle in the chamber, unable to be in the field doing their jobs. Moreover, when we have marathon meetings that last for 5,6, 7 or more hours—we are alienating a segment of the public that wants to participate.  We should be prepared for meetings in advance of the meetings and utilize only the time necessary to conduct our discussions and deliberations--- and not one minute more. 

Whether it’s a budget disagreement or a controversial decision the board must make—we must be civil and refrain from making principled disagreements on policy and finance into a zero-sum game of absolutes devolving into ad hominem personal attacks.  This must end. The motto I’ll strive to emulate as your chairman will be to praise in public, be critical in private, and treat citizens, fellow elected officials, and every employee with respect and dignityjust as we want to be treated.

As I transition into the chairmanship-- I want Escambia County citizens to know two key things:  I thank you for giving me the honor and the privilege of serving you, and I will work as hard as humanly possible to improve our county in my time here.


Anonymous said...

We know you will be one fine chairman. Can't wait. Thank you, you must have been raised right. It shows.

Anonymous said...

Suggestions to consider

Instead of agenda reviews in the morning and meetings later, and so it doesn't last all day, consider to be in "session" most of they day...say 10-6 or so but break for lunch. Even though meetings are long, schedule breaks.

Do not be in a hurry but have meetings more often perhaps.

Make sure all the back up is available (get staff on the ball) and that things are on the agenda and limit as much as possible ADD ONS.

Speak clearly about what is being discussed so the public can follow along on the agenda. Don't try to push things under the radar, some see it anyway and it erodes public trust.

Don't just moves blocks of items with out some discussion--call it what it is.

Do not rearrange things so a CC can leave (limit that)Try to stick to a program and schedule.

This way members of public and know what and when items will be discussed and when with no surprises, the CC's will not be exhausted and perhaps the rapport with the commissioners and the public be improved.

Trust me, I realize that some times it may seem the public is arguing or misinformed (some are) but I truly believe citizens are becoming more engaged and a dialogue may actually be helpful and we can learn from each other at times.

We are aware of Home rule etc but really please try to continue to mature and grow this commission to be better than it has been. Your vote does represent the many and as a public servant be ever mindful.

All the Best to you as you take this chairman position. I think you are intelligent, work hard and think things through but are still very reactive when challenged (who isn't)

With support

We are in this together and we are (or should be) on the same side

Respectfully and
with Prayers for integrity for us all for this next new year.

Thank you for your hard work.

engaged citizen

Anonymous said...

Well you did it...The side consult with Jesse Rigby was probably the mayor faux pas. You have a county attorney not Wilson's attorney.. and yes doing the entire discussion in the agenda review for the sheriff..C'mom it was an add on, citizens came to speak on it with baby sitters and everything,,and you blew them off.

Get an agenda and stick to it. Add ons, adjusting the agenda..limit

Arm chair quarter back

jesse Rigby wasn't too cool//

Jeff Bergosh said...

Jesse was asked a question after the speaker's time had expired. I also consulted our attorney, met with staff, did independent research, and at the end of the process a fair and equitable compromised was reached and enacted that protects and respects the rights of more than 400 District 1 property owners....Absent this action, these properties would have been down-zoned by the board. glad this was resolved. Unfortunate that some mistakenly feel I "cut them off" --however this simply is not true. Watch the tape. The conversation was meandering and I had heard, over and over, this one speaker's particular objection to the matter at issue. I wanted to insure that the language on the errata sheet solved the problem it with the 400 property owners, so I confirmed it did with staff and with Mr. Rigby who specializes in this area of practice. This is the way this happened and those that were on the losing side of this argument are simply perturbed and are looking for a scapegoat. Here is a newsflash speaker: You had three speakers' worth of time to convince us your point was right and you were unsuccessful. The vote went against your position 3-1. Next issue.....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for response...I have been looking it over...Next..I do think you are taking this very seriously and thoughtfully. so am I.