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The “Public” in Public Administration

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By manalk, on June 8, 2011

One of the important components of a public administrator’s job is to be receptive to, and work with the general public on many issues. This engagement with the public goes beyond working with the elected, policy-making council/board and providing public services to citizens in the government’s jurisdiction. Many governments, including Wake County, also appoint citizens to advisory boards that make recommendations to the council/board about specific topics.

For example, last week I wrote about the Town of Wendell’s request for an extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), and mentioned that the Land Use Committee of Wake County Planning Board had heard the request but was unable to reach a final decision to present to the Board of Commissioners. The Planning Board advises the County on planning and zoning matters and is open to all Wake County residents who are interested in being appointed to serve on it.

Last Wednesday, the full Planning Board heard Wendell’s request and voted to recommend that the Commissioners deny the Town’s request for what they believed was too large an ETJ. This was particularly interesting because the County’s planning department staff had recommended that the Commissioners grant Wendell its request. It is uncertain whether Wendell will take its request all the way to the Commissioners now, but if it does it will again be interesting to see which side the Commissioners choose and why.

Another channel for public expression in public administration is the public hearings that are required before a council/board approves a government’s annual budget. Wake County manager David Cooke presented his proposed fiscal year 2011-2012 budget to the Commissioners on May 16th. This Monday (June 6th), the Commissioners’ heard comments about the proposed budget from the general public.

Not surprisingly, most of the comments sought more money/less cuts for a variety of social services organizations such as ones targeting mental illness and homelessness/poverty. Many of these organizations are looking to see at least a 10% reduction in funding next year, and may be further affected by the discontinued county funding of community partnership grants.

One issue that was not brought up as many times, or with as much passion, was the proposed funding for Wake County schools. This is because next year’s budget not only makes no cuts in the schools’ budget, it actually increases the schools’ allocation by $900,000. Wake County residents can rest assured that as long as the school system does not see drastic budgets cuts at the state and national level, their kids will not need to go through this:

Thanks for reading!

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