Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tax alternatives are everywhere

Tax alternatives are everywhere

Deepak Seth • Guest essayist • June 9, 2008

In my May 27 column titled "Taxes aren't only revenue option.'' I shared some ideas about alternative ways to raise revenue. Today, I offer other ideas to accomplish the transition from the "raise taxes and/or cut staff/services'' mindset to the "raise revenue and cut costs'' mindset.
Ideas related to cutting costs by improving efficiency and effectiveness open up a veritable Pandora's box.Here are some more readily executable ideas, which hopefully should not get caught up in political or administrative gobbledygook.

  • Institute reverse-bidding as the means for awarding all county and city service and supply contracts. Whoever bids the lowest for providing a service or supply to the county/city should get the contract as long as they meet other criteria. The process should be open, transparent and Web-enabled so that citizens can also keep tabs on what the county is paying.
  • Review the routing and scheduling of the county/city fleet of vehicles on a scientific basis. Many new routes may have been added over the years and the existing routes/schedules may not be optimal. Multiple/duplicate trips might be happening when a single one would suffice.
  • Think of opportunities to sell when buying a product or service. The county/city may be intending to pay for a certain service, but it may be possible that vendors are willing to install the service for free or pay money in return for certain privileges.
  • Go green, think Earth and save dollars. Take energy audits of buildings and vehicles with corrective actions to make them more energy-efficient, solar panels on buildings, harness geothermal and wind energy opportunities, convert diesel vehicles to run on bio-diesel (including used cooking oils). It's more relevant now due to rising fuel prices.
  • Standardize and consolidate information technology —infrastructure, software, hardware — across all county/city organizations with interoperability so as to get better rates from vendors and service providers.
  • Some county/city services appear to be monopolies with only a single provider. Introducing some competition and more private players into the mix can drive costs down.
  • Investigate opportunities to transition some services traditionally assumed to be in the public-sector domain to private entrepreneurs. Generally, the private sector is more efficient in keeping costs down. In other words, can driving license, vehicle registration and passport applications be collected by local pharmacies, photo shops or driving schools? Would the private sector be interested in running some bus routes?
    Government has to find more creative and thoughtful ways to raise money.

Community members serve on the Editorial Board and write regular columns.

1 comment:

Middle Relief said...

You haven't posted lately on the D&C - you're still doing it right?

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