Former councilman wants more action, less planning

After a few months off, former Bainbridge City Councilman Bob Scales has found himself drawn back to City Hall. In recent weeks, he’s made speeches at the podium, drawn up 10-point plans, crafted detailed analysis (see this week’s Islander), and is now writing letters to the editor. What’s he so worked up about? Read his letter (below) find out….


MY TURN: Too Much Study, Not Enough Action on BI

Last Wednesday night I watched an hour-long discussion about the City of Bainbridge Island’s capital facilities planning process.

The mayor, city administrator, council members, and planning commission members were saying what a great job the city is doing developing the plan. I agree. No city plans better than Bainbridge Island. The city spends millions of dollars each year on consultants, studies and surveys. Every project and issue is examined and reexamined down to the minutest detail.

Winslow Tomorrow was a three-year, million-dollar. “award-winning” planning effort. The city has an “award-winning” non-motorized transportation plan. In fact, the offices at City Hall are crammed full of “award-winning” plans and studies.

Planning is not the problem. Implementation is the problem. What is the use of having an “award-winning” plan if it just sits on the shelf and is never implemented? Two years ago the city council expressed concern about the city’s inability to complete projects funded in the budget. The council funded a Benchmarking Study (yes another study) to find out how Bainbridge Island compares with other similar-sized cities.

The study found that our government costs more and produces less than most other cities. The executive and planning departments alone cost twice as much on Bainbridge Island as they do in comparable cities. The higher cost of our city government wouldn’t be so bad if the city was getting things accomplished. Unfortunately, the city has little to show for the $50-million-plus they collect in taxes and fees. For example, each year the public works department is only able to complete 30 percent of the projects that are funded in the budget. Money is not the problem, it is the city’s inability to complete the tasks assigned to it.

So what can be done to improve the situation? The Benchmarking Study provided a long list of recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our city government. Unfortunately, I do not believe that any of those recommendations have been acted upon. Implementation is the responsibility of the mayor and her administration. If the mayor and her team are unable to do their jobs, then it is time for a change.

The city council approves and funds projects but they are not responsible for implementation. However, the council often wants to tinker with projects that have already been approved (e.g. waterfront park bathroom). This just delays things. Once a project is funded, the council should get out of the way and let the administration go to work.

The latest community values survey clearly shows that our residents are not satisfied with the city’s performance in two high priority areas — water quality and supply and nonmotorized transportation. How many more studies will the city conduct before it decides to take some action?

I am not optimistic that the city will be able to climb out of the malaise it finds itself in. Radical changes are needed in both personnel and process. These changes cannot occur without strong and decisive leadership.

Who is going to lead the city out of this mess?

Bob Scales
Bainbridge Island City Councilman, 2004-2007

One thought on “Former councilman wants more action, less planning

  1. Former Councilman Scales said this in his recent letter (see above): “I am not optimistic that the city will be able to climb out of the malaise it finds itself in. Radical changes are needed in both personnel and process. These changes cannot occur without strong and decisive leadership.

    Who is going to lead the city out of this mess?”

    We have had a Chief Executive for 2 terms and that person is Mayor Kordonowy. At the last COBI Council meeting a distinguished speaker called for the Mayor’s resignation. See the call to action on YouTube: Deceit, Deception, Recall, Bainbridge. youtube.com/?v=lz-e3n68VT8

    Clearly Mr. Scales frames the question on our current quagmire. The leader he calls for is not our current mayor and that is clear.

    JMO

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