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Don't cut a person who fills the coffers

City Life

July 05, 2010|By Steve Smith

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it gets worse. So today's lesson is called "Expenses vs. Investments 101."

In a business, expenses tied to maintaining the viability of the enterprise are commonly referred to as "overhead." Overhead can include expenses, such as rent, insurance or salaries and benefits.

In a restaurant, for example, wages and benefits for busboys are expenses, as are the wages and benefits for a server in the eatery.

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In that restaurant, however, there may be a server who is particularly adept at upgrading guest entrée orders or inducing add-ons, such as appetizers or beverages. Because that person directly generates revenue, or even unanticipated revenue, he or she is not an expense beyond his or her wages. This server is also an asset. Similarly, the commissioned salesperson who sells products or services at profitable levels beyond his or her compensation package is also an asset.

Should business decline, the busboy is more likely to be eliminated before the server because he lacks the skills and assets of the server who generates revenue.

Now let's try to transfer this simple business concept to city government.

Public and private enterprises often have someone in the organization who's responsible for securing incremental revenue, that is, revenue generated in addition to the usual or customary methods, such as taxes or tuitions. This person, whose title may be "grant administrator" or "grant application specialist," is responsible for filing the required paperwork and managing the application processes of grant monies through the final approval in order to improve the level of service of that enterprise.

In the case of the municipality, a grant manager or administrator could help apply for and manage the process of funding for new police or fire equipment, playground enhancements for the Department of Parks and Recreation, school improvements or even telecommunications. In many cases, various department heads work independently to get transportation and other grants.

But a good grant administrator will generate revenue for projects in numbers many times his or her salary and will contribute greatly to the safety and improvement of the city.

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