4/22/2007

Software

The Tribune had a piece yesterday about a software company that is considering opening an office in Great Falls.

Notably absent from the piece was any comment by a City official outlining the City's efforts to recruit this company. While I have no idea whether the City has been involved in the recruitment process (although searches for the company's name and owner came up empty on the City's website), the story does lead to one important point.

Every day, every hour, every minute that a City employee devotes to running an electrical utility represents time that is not being spent by that employee on other City business. This software company's plans are apparently dependent on $3.5 million dollars worth of business. We've spent nearly that much on our power plant plans.

I raise this not to make any direct points about the power plant, but we need to remember that this is a zero sum game. The money and time we are spending on the power issue is money and time that cannot be utilized for other purposes to benefit the City of Great Falls. I hope we're all aware of the trade-off.

And, one more point. I operate from the assumption that, before anyone ever even thought of getting into the power business, our City Manager and Fiscal Services Director were busy in full-time employment. Now that they are devoting significant portions of their time to operating an electrical utility, who is making up the slack?

In other words, have we hired additional personnel to do the work they used to do before we started an electrical utility? Or is there work that is not being done?

Likewise, if the power plant falls by the wayside, will these two positions be cut back to part time? I mean think about this logically.

If there's "x" work being completed by "y" staff, and it suddenly becomes "x+10," either something has to be added to "y," or "y" has been underutilized all along.

Which is it?

2 comments:

Dona Stebbins said...

To the best of my knowledge, no one from the Tribune contacted any city officials.
As to recruiting efforts, I had dinner with these great folks, as did Mr. Lawton. We let them know that their company is very, very welcome here. We work closely with GFDA and are always available to assist with site visits.
Just because you don't read it in the Tribune doesn't mean it didn't happen.

GeeGuy said...

Thank you Mayor. You'll note that I certainly subscribe to your wisdom "Just because you don't read it in the Tribune doesn't mean it didn't happen."

See above: "While I have no idea whether the City has been involved in the recruitment process..."

I was actually using it more as a stepping stone to another point: City resources are limited, and directing them toward one project means they cannot be utilized on another one.