Wednesday, March 31, 2010

County Shifts Priorities

In a strategy to reduce costs during a period of funding crisis, the idea mentioned in this Sacramento Bee article to partner with a nonprofit organization in the management of the American River Parkway is an excellent one.

Often crisis leads to strategies that are better than what they replace, and this could very well be one of them.

The success of signature parks being managed by a nonprofit organization has been well-documented in New York, where Central Park has been managed by the Central Park Conservancy for many years, and in Pittsburgh where the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy contracted with the city in 1998 to manage Pittsburgh’s four regional parks.

It is also a change being considered by San Francisco after council members visited the Central Park Conservancy, the national model for the strategy.

Our strategy suggestion is to develop the Joint Powers Authority (JPA), currently being discussed, and have the JPA create the nonprofit; seeking leadership through a national search for an executive director experienced raising the millions needed to properly manage and enhance the Parkway.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Crisis is an opportunity for change.

“That's the message from Sacramento County's interim executive officer, Steve Szalay, to the Board of Supervisors.

“With the county facing a projected $118 million deficit, Szalay unveiled possible ways for county government to reshape itself….”

“After weeks of meetings with top officials, soliciting feedback from employees and talks with the private sector, Szalay compiled a list of changes, which he's calling "a blueprint for future improvements," according to documents he presented to the Board of Supervisors last week.

"The whole intent of this is to save money, improve services, raise revenue – to change the organization to one that constantly thinks of these things," Szalay told the board.

“The list includes nine areas of focus, including places the county can look to contract out, consolidate or share services with other governments like the city of Sacramento.

“The county has already started ticking off items on the list.

“At Tuesday's meeting, the supervisors approved transferring control of the Mather Community Campus – site of key area homeless programs – to Volunteers of America.

“Szalay's list included a number of other programs where the county could consider a similar transfer, including the Effie Yeaw Program and maintenance of the American River Parkway.”