Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 Salute winners show diversity of government services

The Public Policy Forum has held an annual awards ceremony to honor outstanding government performance - the Salute to Local Government - for each of the past 18 years. As the Forum prepares to hold its 19th annual Salute on June 23 (see details and sign up here), it could be argued that at no time since the program's inception has the role and value of local governments and school districts been more unsettled.

The beauty of the Salute, however, is the opportunity it provides to put aside political differences for one morning and celebrate public sector accomplishment. Indeed, no matter where one stands on the governor's budget repair bill, we all should be able to agree that innovative and professional government performance is worth saluting. And, whether one thinks government is too big or too small, or public sector employees are compensated too much or not well enough, perhaps we also can agree that there are certain nuts-and-bolts government services that need to be performed, and that those who perform them well deserve recognition and praise.

This year's list of Salute award winners - selected by a panel of judges appointed by the Forum - demonstrates the diversity of government services in our region. The government winners include a cost-saving initiative by a village public works department; a technology initiative by a municipal court; an economic development initiative by two city governments; and a math, science and engineering initiative by a joint school district. Individual winners, meanwhile, include a city fiscal official, a county parks official, and a retired county human services director.

For those counting, that's seven separate functional areas of local government and five different types of governments (village, city, county, school district and courts). And again, while citizens may differ on whether there are too many layers of government and too many types of government services, it's nice to know there is outstanding performance occurring in each of these areas.

A complete list of the 2011 Salute winners can be accessed here, and a media release with additional details here.

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