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Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray Updates SCORE

March 18, 2010

Richard Gray, Lancaster Mayor and honorary SCORE member, recently discussed the ‘state of the City’ at a Lancaster SCORE monthly meeting.

Lancaster Mayor Richard Gray

Reversing the common question – “Why isn’t local government run like a business? – Gray asked “Why isn’t a business run like the government?”  

He then explained why.  The Mayor explained the services the city government is required to provide – police, fire, water, sewage, roadways, public works, education and more; the costs of those services; the revenue streams available; and the laws and regulations that they must follow. Applied to the ‘operating a business analogy,’ his points were: 

  • Lancaster municipal government is balkanized into sixty different branches with sixteen overlapping school districts,  seventy-six separate governing commissions, authorities and boards with no central planning or coordination and no change in its organization structure in a hundred years
  • State and County regulations compel many local services – the city cannot control what services it must provide
  • State regulations dictate ‘negotiations’ with ‘fire’ and ‘police’ are done through outside arbitrators – the local government can’t control the costs of many of its services
  • Revenue streams – allotments from State and Federal budgets are shrinking; property taxes are already high; dozens of City properties are tax exempt, e.g., churches, social services, county government offices, courts, etc.; the City provides services for thousands of people who work, shop and dine in the City, but live elsewhere so don’t pay any taxes to the City

So … could any business succeed – even survive – if it had to operate like the City? We concluded “No!”  And now we have a much better understanding of the challenges faced by the City and the Mayor. He reinforced how important it is for SCORE to help City entrepreneurs – emerging and existing – succeed … to create new companies, new jobs, and expansions of existing businesses.

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