Chucri: A year of making government smarter and saving tax dollars

Not a day goes by without reading another story of a looming crisis requiring governments to make large investments in education, pensions, border control, transportation, new prisons and more.

Steve Chucri

Steve Chucri

At Maricopa County, we face many of those same challenges and demands, but understand that we cannot saddle our taxpayers with increasing property tax burdens. Instead we continue to apply strict fiscal discipline and a business mindset to everything we do. We’re a county that must focus on needs, not wants.

We are proud to have an amazing group of leaders to guide Maricopa County on a continued path of true economic recovery. Part of that success is because we continue to partner closely with state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and constituents like you.

Many point to local government as the engine of change for the next 20 years, the place where citizens are more likely to see innovative policy, proactive energy and transformative reforms. Maricopa County is on the precipice of pursuing tomorrow’s potential, right now.

How are we accomplishing that you may ask? Maricopa County is looking inward, not only at what we do at the county level, but who is doing the work.

Personnel Reform: As Chairman, I was proud to launch a ground-breaking personnel reform effort this year. The goals: Making the county’s workforce more accountable and efficient, competitive and productive. This was no small undertaking as we significantly cut bureaucratic red tape so the county can move quickly to hire the best job applicants. Now we are rewarding performance while giving management the flexibility to work with those who are struggling to execute. Moving forward, you have a county government that is lean and efficient, yet provides outstanding customer service. The public deserves no less.

Smart Justice: More than half of the county’s $2 billion dollar budget is committed to public safety and the justice system. So it’s no surprise the board and county management gives this a great deal of attention. “Smart Justice” slows the revolving door of crime by promoting the right treatment at the right level in the jail system. This maximizes the chance of rehabilitation and decreases the likelihood one will reoffend. The evidence is clear that this coordinated effort will increase public safety.

Technology Trends: For the first time ever, the Board of Supervisors meetings are now streamed over the Internet. This can dramatically affect how citizens interact with the county, enabling better communication and an increase in public trust. We are also embarking on a mission to rebuild our massive website so it better serves citizens with useful tools and information.

This year, Maricopa County government agencies won 47 individual achievement awards, the most in the nation, from the National Association of Counties. The NACo awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services, create efficiencies and save taxpayers money. I often talk about Maricopa County being “Best in Class.” We are gaining that reputation nationally.

Today, we can pivot from the past and look to the future, confident that the direction we have started to take will lead to a more transparent, engaged, data-driven focus on an efficient delivery of services people need and expect.

Maricopa County is open to change and collaboration. We are finding better ways to serve you because that is what you elected us to do.

Editor’s note: Mr. Chucri is chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and a Paradise Valley resident.

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