Celebrating Victories While Striving for Excellence
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
July 8, 2004

Hardly a day goes by without some effort being made here at the County to run efficiently and effectively.  This means to me that we look for ways to save money while not being taken in by false economies.  This having been said, there are always unlimited projects drawing upon limited resources.  When we have enough money to go around for everything, we'll know that we have arrived in heaven.  In the meantime, we have plenty of room for humility but against a background of solid performance.

Let's talk about striving for excellence.  A fundamental principal of any well-run government is that the public and the media must be an integral part of the examination of government. Government is simply too large and extensive to leave to a few.  So it is that the Express-News investigated the use of cell phones.

Bexar County has 1200 cell phones, many of which are distributed to election judges in many if not most of the 400 voting sites.  This added to certain of the workforce including Commissioner's Court is where the phones are used.  The total of money spent in 2003 is $349,254.00. 

Reform of this whole area of cell phone usage is definitely in order!  When a simple thing like turning off a phone that has been turned back into the County is not done, there is a need for something stronger in both policy and management.  This kind of thing would be unthinkable in our private lives, but because of the size of government, it happens. 

This having been said, I must quote Tom Peters the management expert and author of "In Search of Excellence".  He says that "The larger the organization, the dumber it gets."  Bexar County is a very large organization and quite susceptible to improvement in a whole range of areas.  This having been said, I believe that on the whole, Bexar County does a credible job of ferreting out foolishness and I invite your opinions on this subject.  See the footnote below to contact my office as to your thoughts.

Let's talk about celebrating the good things.  Bexar County has cut or retained the tax rate for the past eight years.  All of this would not be possible without the resolve to manage resources well and of course, to the Appraisal District revaluations pursuant to state law, which is a state legislative matter.  

Talk about celebrating, this year Bexar County has:

  1. Adopted the first serious Energy Policy for Bexar County
  2. Hired the First Energy Manager ever for Bexar County
  3. Organized the First Energy Bexar County Council Meeting
    1. Began discussion of protocols for energy, including:
      1. Usages by office
      2. Discussing usages by building

The Energy Manager is financed primarily with a $25,000.00 grant from the State Energy Conservation Office and a $25,000.00 grant from Rebuild America, a partnership of the federal Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Building on this, the Energy Manager has negotiated a utility rate we were entitled to but had not taken advantage of previously and which will save around $30,000.00 annually.  The solar thermal energy collector, the largest in Texas, will save $53,000.00 annually well beyond the time it takes to pay off its $395,000.00 price tag.  The efforts of this office will be ongoing and unceasing!

Through your efforts in supporting the recent bond proposal, the Adult Probation Office which is a joint venture between the State and the County, will be housed in a County building instead of the County paying around $650,000.00 in rent annually!  The fleet management building will also be abandoned in favor of one we will own.  We will not be paying $80,000.00 annually into eternity because of the fleet management move.  Both of the above alone save much of the $730,000.00 we would otherwise have paid as far as we could have seen into the future. 

So, the good, the bad and ugly is ever-present.  It would not be life as we know it if just one or the other were our experience.  In all, if confidence with humility can describe how I feel about it, that's my take.

Hope you had a great Fourth of July and will have a wonderful rest of the summer!

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