Maricopa County offers plenty of positives - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Maricopa County offers plenty of positives

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Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2008 10:18 pm | Updated: 10:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Leadership is on people’s minds these days amid all the political contests. We are in the throes of deciding who will lead us, from president of our nation to local officials.

During these times, we who are stewards of the public trust feel the weight of our duties and responsibilities as acutely as ever. A real leader begins with the end in mind and carefully works toward achieving those goals.

In Maricopa County, our mission is to “provide regional leadership and fiscally responsible, necessary public services so that residents can enjoy living in a healthy and safe community.” Here is a quick overview of what the Board of Supervisors is doing to realize our mission.

Services provided by the county are guided by strategic priorities in seven areas. Each priority has several goals and specific measures to evaluate performance:

• Ensure safe communities and a streamlined, integrated justice system.

• Promote and protect the public health of the community.

• Provide regional leadership in critical public policy areas.

• Carefully plan and manage land use in Maricopa County to promote sustainable development and to preserve and strengthen our environment.

• Continue to exercise sound financial management and build the county’s fiscal strength while minimizing the property tax burden.

• Maintain a quality work force and equip county employees with the tools, skills, workspace and resources they need to do their jobs safely and well.

• Continue to improve the county’s public image by increasing citizen satisfaction with the quality and cost-effectiveness of services provided by the Court.

Great leaders use strategic priorities for focus and results. Let me share just a few of our accomplishments, corresponding with our seven priorities:

• Crime is down 10 percent countywide. With voter approval, new jails and crime prevention programming have been implemented with excellent results. Court space shortages are being addressed with six new regional justice centers around the county to better serve our citizens.

• Health care, especially public health, has improved with new, larger facilities and programs. Our new Air Quality Department is addressing the PM-10 brown cloud problem aggressively, with more rigorous compliance standards.

• Transportation is an arena where we continue to lead by working with our partners at Maricopa Association of Governments to complete dozens of new road and bridge projects each year. Additionally, our new downtown Human Service Campus for the homeless is a model in the nation.

• Open-space parks are a hallmark of sustainability in the desert Southwest. The county’s parks system, with more than 120,000 acres in 11 parks around the mountainous Valley circumference, has been recognized nationally.

• Maricopa County’s bond rating is the highest in its history, rated by Moody’s as AAA. Recently, we paid off all our general obligation bond debt. We are one of the largest governments in the nation in such a sound financial position. Overall property tax rates continue to decline, and a board-imposed voluntary cap on the secondary tax rate will continue to protect taxpayers.

• Employee survey results have improved significantly as market adjustments have made our county more competitive. Benefit plans are improving dramatically, attracting top quality employees.

• Maricopa County was recognized by Governing magazine as “the best-run county in America,” and this year our manager, David Smith, was named county executive of the year by a national organization.

Entrusted with county assets, programs and policies, the Board of Supervisors has charted a progressive course. Along with our strong team of managers and fellow elected officials, we have protected and enhanced the quality of life in our county.

Frequently, we are asked by other governments for advice and counsel, a testament that we are a government worth emulating.

Don Stapley is a Maricopa County supervisor representing District 2 and is president of the National Association of Counties.

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