LARGO -- While Mayor Bob Jackson handed out accolades effusively at last month's meeting of elected officials and the top management of Largo, he cautioned the staff to be aware and sensitive to the cost of services to taxpayers.
Jackson had praise for every one of the city's departments and mentioned them serially with high praise.
But he brought the focus of his remarks to bear on those for whom city services exist -- the citizenry.
"As you strive to be a high performance workforce, I would hope that you would consider the cost to the citizens," Jackson said, who then went on to cite the increase taxpayers face in ad valorem taxes, along with the increase in fees for sewer, solid waste and storm water.
Jackson has been very cognizant and sensitive to these increases and spoke out about them when the City Commission was deliberating each of them.
He said, "I would hope that you would consider the cost to the citizens. Please add cost effectiveness and efficiency to the list of values you hold."
The bottom line, Jackson implied, was that "Your goal should be to seek ways to provide necessary services at the least possible cost."
Even with his cautionary words, Jackson recognized that these goals could be compatible with a high performance work force which, he said, "should value citizen input and satisfaction."
Jackson went on to say, "It should be a team effort between the citizens, elected representatives and the staff."
Such an ideal would bring Largo to a level rarely achieved in government. As it is, the Largo staff is generally credited as superior in its services.
Unlike a city like Clearwater, for example, Largo is not riddled with a disgruntled fire department or foul-ups in building its new library. While Clearwater seems to be wrestling with problems like its fire department and library parking that are all bollixed up, Largo's energies go to improving something that is already pretty good. Where there is animosity in Clearwater between departments and the manager, in Largo all appears to be hunky-dorey.
When Jackson said in is remarks at the November meeting that "Our public safety departments of police and fire rescue are second to none in the county," there is little or no evidence to dispute that.
Largo's Environmental Services gets high marks from anyone who has visited the plants the city maintains.
Much of the credit, of course, for the city's success in providing services (and not mentioned by Jackson) goes to City Manager Steve Stanton who has assembled the top leadership that delivers the services.
The effect of Stanton on the performance and standards of city services is ineluctable. There is no other location to place the credit, except for the City Commission which has, generally, backed its city manager.
Jackson eschewed taking any credit for himself or the commission.
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