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Let's work together to make Chatham County government more efficient

By Brian Bock
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - Over the past year I have talked often about "streamlining" government. Since being sworn in as a commissioner, I've worked to transition the talk into action. As I and the other new commissioners have gone about our work, it hadn't occurred to me that there might be some confusion as to what is meant by streamlining. Recently however, a few members of CCEC and one of my fellow commissioners have expressed confusion when the topic of streamlining arises. Since I expect to be focusing on the topic over the next four years I thought it would be a good idea to let everyone know what I'm thinking when I say "streamline".

Streamlining means to change our processes, policies, and ordinances to make them more efficient. It’s really just a sub-category of an old idea. We used to call it "Total Quality Management" or just "continual improvement". Continual improvement is something we should always be working toward whether it's a manufacturing process or our government. Sometimes this will mean eliminating layers of bureaucracy as we did in January, adjusting or eliminating unnecessary steps as we are doing with the sub-division ordinances, or improving the working relationship with our municipalities and neighbors.

There will be times when streamlining and improvement are at odds with each other. In those cases, improvement trumps streamlining. That was the case in our recent discussion and decision about water quality in the Alston Road community around the old landfill site. Some residents in the community had to move their wells as a direct result of being near the old Chatham County landfill. Some have been treating their wells at their expense for several years. It’s doubtful that the problems with water quality at this point have anything to do with the landfill. However, the residents are concerned and don’t feel they should have to pay for treatment of the water in wells that the county required to be moved. To ensure the residents have safe water, give them piece of mind, and to alleviate any financial hardship; commissioners Petty, Stewart, Cross and I voted to have the county pay for the treatment (about $10/week) and to test them more frequently for contaminants.

As a candidate it was my belief that we could streamline and improve our processes. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that as a commissioner I still believe it. I am committed to doing what I said I would do. We should never get to the point where we say, "it's good enough" or "it's better than it was so we should be satisfied". As we make changes to streamline and improve we'll set a new baseline. That new baseline will then need to be improved upon.

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Let's work together to make Chatham County government more efficient