More of the Same Only Produces more of the Same Results

I was reading the article in The Union about Grass Valley’s budget struggles, $2 million dollars in short fall over the next five years, and was troubled by the new City Manager Bob Richard’s admission that other cities all across the state are in the situation as Grass Valley.

This projected budget shortfall was discussed June 28 during a presentation to the City Council on the fiscal year 2014-15 budget. Bob Richardson said the writing was on the wall long before that, though.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “The council knew there were financial challenges coming up when they hired me.”

“This is playing out all over California,” he added. “Every article I’ve read about every city and every budget, they have the same issues.”

So what is the solution. Grass Valley’s solution according to the article is to develop and economic development plan. They are also participating in the latest Economic Resource Council economic development plan. One has to wonder what will be different in the Grass Valley Plan, that will be different from the ERC plan and different from all the other cites in CA with the same problem. 

The ERC plan is more of what has been tried in the past, only dressed up in a more elaborate package to grow existing business and lure business to Nevada County from the Bay Area to take advantage of our great quality of life, and little else.  The five impediments in the plan tell the story of the challenges that both the ERC and Grass Valley face, without considering the rising cost of energy in the state, which is going to jump starting in January 2015, when the Low Carbon Fuel Standards are implemented. All the while AB-32 continues to suck revenue from business to be spent on the pet projects of our political masters in Sacramento. 

How will the Grass Valley plan handle the impediments to economic development identified in the ERC Plan:

  1. Lack of pervasive high speed Internet Service
  2. Under developed skilled, technical workforce
  3. Lack of available land
  4. Lack of spousal employment opportunities
  5. Under developed entrepreneurship programs

My concern is that the Grass Valley plan will be more of the same that has been tried before, more buy local, encourage more tourism and promote more framers markets. The only one that brings money in to the community is tourism. Buying local and certified framers markets are just re-circulating existing money.  

The ERC and Grass Valley plans should focus on how to import more wealth into the community. Wealthy retires are wealth importers.  Dot-com manufactures who can escape shipping costs have highly skilled well paid workers who add wealth to community, and or course more and more tourist.

The challenge for bringing more tourist to western Nevada County is the rising cost of fuel.  The LCFS is projected to raise fuel prices between 10 to 40 cents per gallon. Some scare monger, say it could be as much as $1.00 a gallon or more. We will have to see how the market adjusts to government tinkering in the open market. Refiners are going to cover their costs, but the demand for expensive fuel may drop as more people park their cars and seek other means of transportation to work and shopping, which is exactly want CARB is hoping will be the response. That is the exact opposite of what merchants and recreation purveyors, who are seeking more tourism dollars want. 

Other cities, outside of California has solved their economic crisis by privatizing services, such as Sandy Springs Georgia.  I sent the following link to Dan Miller with details in how privatization helped this small city recover:  http://isil.org/the-town-that-privatized-everything/  

It is time for Grass Valley to look for other solutions, doing more of the same will not work. Doing what other CA cities and town are doing is not the solution. Time for some out of the box thinking.  More of the same is not going to work.  

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About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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