Podcast: Responding to Financial Crisis with Shayne Kavanagh & Greg Devereaux

Posted on October 2, 2020


Shayne KavanaghGreg Devereaux
Shayne Kavanagh
Senior Manager of Research
GFOA
Bio | LinkedIn
Greg Devereaux
Chief Executive Officer (Retired)
San Bernardino County, California
Bio | LinkedIn

GFOA Fiscal First Aid. Shayne Kavanagh, Senior Manager of Research for GFOA, and Greg Devereaux, retired Chief Executive Officer of San Bernardino County, CA, joined the podcast to talk about recovering from a financial crisis. GFOA has identified a 12 step process for dealing with any crisis. Even the best-prepared local governments can be impacted by situations where there isn’t enough money to do everything that people expect to get done.

Host: Alyssa Dinberg

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Episode Transcript

Message

This is Brian Murphy, ELGL’s Data Manager. The ELGL Diversity Dashboard is the first national data collection on the gender, race and age of local government leadership. We’re excited to launch our third full year of data collection. This year, we’re expanding our collection to include all levels of local government positions, not just Chief Administrative Officers, in an effort to get a better understanding of diversity across a wider variety of local government positions. This year’s survey is looking for responses from Local Government Leaders working in many different positions. We look forward to hearing from department heads, project managers, analysts and others as we hope to get data on the diversity of local government leadership. You can find more information on the survey and a link to respond at elgl.org/diversity-dashboard. We hope you’ll respond and follow the data as we work to make local government more diverse.

Alyssa Dinberg

Coming to you from Denver, Colorado, this is GovLove, a podcast about local government. GovLove is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Alyssa Dinberg, and today I’m joined by Shayne Kavanagh from the Government Finance Officers Association, and Greg Devereaux, who retired from San Bernardino County, California three years ago. Welcome to GovLove.

Greg Devereaux

Great to be with you.

Alyssa Dinberg

Super happy to have you guys here. I’m really interested in this topic. And I know a bunch of our listeners will be as well. Um, so a financial crisis can take many forms, including a major employer laying off as much of its workforce, plummeting property values due to population loss, crippling cyberattacks, natural disasters, large scale recessions, and worldwide pandemics that shutdown the global economy. Any of these events would likely cause significant financial distress for even the best prepared local governments. Whether they lead to increased expenditures decreased revenue or a combination of both, the effect is the same. The local government finds itself without enough money to do everything that people expect it to get done. GFOA has put together a series of resources to help local governments finance officers facing these tough situations. So I’m really excited to learn about this episode today. But let’s first get started with one of our signature lightning rounds. Are you ready Shayne and Greg?

Shayne Kavanagh

I am.

Greg Devereaux

Ready.

Alyssa Dinberg

Okay. So our first, our first question, we’re going to start with Shayne. What is your most controversial nonpolitical opinion?

Shayne Kavanagh

Well, I say that opinion is that The Wire is the greatest movie or TV show ever made by humankind. And that is because of its attention to detail. It is fully realized characters. And it’s probably also a bit because I’m a government finance guy. You can appreciate this stuff. There was one scene in there where they’re trying to figure out how to balance the budget. And if they had brought me in as a consultant on that scene, I could not have done it any better. They absolutely nailed it.

Alyssa Dinberg

Huh, wow. Okay, that’s definitely a first. I have I have to say I’ve never seen the show, but I might have to check it out now. Greg, what about you? What’s your most controversial nonpolitical opinion?

Greg Devereaux

That short, bald, bearded men have more fun. I’m all three. [Laughter]

Alyssa Dinberg

That’s funny. My partner is bald with a beard. So I’m sure he would appreciate you saying this. Okay, our next question. Let’s start with Greg on this one. Who is your celebrity best friend?

Greg Devereaux

Timothy Olyphant from the Justified version. I grew up in that part of the country and he was incredibly accurate and somebody I’d love to hang out with.

Alyssa Dinberg

Ha I don’t even think I know who he is. I’m gonna have to look him up. What about you, Shayne?

Shayne Kavanagh

Well, I am there’s a reason I’m going to be consistent in my answers and I’m going to go with Idris Elba. He has played my favorite character on The Wire.

Alyssa Dinberg

Okay. All right. Yep, staying consistent. I appreciate that. All right, our last question in the lightning round. Let’s start with Shayne on this one. If you could be a vegetable, what would you be and why?

Shayne Kavanagh

Well, though, consistency is good from finance people, I don’t have a Wire related answer for this. So I’m gonna go with something else. I’m gonna go with turnip because it’s America’s least favorite vegetable. So I mean it’s least likely to be eaten in that case.

Alyssa Dinberg

[Laughter] I think I think I’ve gotten a turnip before but it was definitely not that reason. But I do really like that reason. That’s a good one. What about you, Greg?

Greg Devereaux

Well, if Shayne is gonna go with turnip, I think I’m gonna go with broccoli, because it’s the favorite vegetable of the majority of people in America. And I like to be popular.

Alyssa Dinberg

Really? Broccoli is a favorite vegetable?

Greg Devereaux

Believe it or not, I couldn’t believe it.

Alyssa Dinberg

Yeah, I don’t think I knew that. I mean, I know kids like it cuz it looks like little trees, but yeah. I like broccoli, but its definitely not my favorite. All right, well, thank you so much for participating in one of our lightning rounds, I really appreciate it. And it’s a good opportunity for us to get to know the fun side of you. Let’s switch our attention to Fiscal First Aid. And, Shayne, my first question for you. Can you tell us a little bit about what the fiscal first aid is? And what’s different about this approach?

Shayne Kavanagh

Fiscal First Aid is a comprehensive approach to dealing with financial distress all the way from creating a bridge across your immediate financial challenges to reforming our operations, to really transforming the way government operates. We invented this back in 2008, in response to the Great Recession. It was very popular at the time, and when in fact, I should say, in fact, when this most popular or this most recent downturn began, I got a call from some veteran GFOA members to let me know they were dusting off their old fiscal first aid materials. Now, regardless of how popular it may have been back in the day, we have completely revised it for 2020. And what makes it different from some of the other resources that are out there is that number one, it’s a comprehensive resource that includes support across pretty much all aspects of recovering from financial distress from beginning to end, from the technical issues to the human issues that are involved in dealing with financial distress. And then as I mentioned earlier, it’s not about just surviving a downturn, it’s about using the opportunity to transform your community and your government to make it better than it was before.

Alyssa Dinberg

So what resources or tools does GFOA have available to help local governments that are currently struggling to balance their budget?

Shayne Kavanagh

Sure, well, there’s many, many resources on the Fiscal First Aid website, that’s gfoa.org/FFA, so I’d encourage your readers to check it out. But I will highlight two of the resources that I believe are most important. The first is the Balancing the Budget in Bad Times series. That is a two part report series, and this two part series catalog strategies for closing budget gaps. And it differentiates the strategies based on a risk. So lower strategies might include things like better vacancy control. So for example, if a position goes vacant, be more intentional about which positions you fill and when you fill them. Also, another example might be improving low, improving your risk management to reduce workers compensation claims, or maybe better aligning your capital project costs with your schedules. So in other words, when you are getting your financing, or your capital projects, make sure that you’re doing so in full knowledge of when those projects are going to begin so you’re not tying up your financing capability with projects that are going to be delayed. And then kind of the other side of that coin is your higher risk strategies that might include things like deferring capital maintenance, outsourcing, or insourcing or increasing the use of part time labor. And for example, increasing the use of part time labor might be a risk, because part time laborers though they may be don’t get benefits, they may not be as well trained as full timers, for example, maybe increasing your government to higher levels of risk, or perhaps just lower, lower quality service. And then the other tool I mentioned, as we were kind of that was one tool. And the second tool is Cash Flow Analysis. And the idea here is governments do forecasts of course for a year. Many do long term forecasts for multiple years. But cash flow analysis is really about getting a better handle on your month to month, inflows and outflows of resources, and really getting a handle on your short term position. When we do our surveys, there’s a really a surprising number of governments that don’t have high quality cash flow analysis tools as part of their repertoire. So we offer a very well done template and if I do say so for myself, and instructions on how to complete it, or how to develop your own cash flow tools. So if anybody listening, this is looking for one thing to do coming out of this podcast, I might suggest taking a look at that cash flow analysis tool if you don’t already have one and implementing one for your government. It is a very high leverage opportunity, I feel.

Alyssa Dinberg

Great, awesome. I love that you’re already giving suggestions for our listeners. That’s awesome. So Greg works for GFOA, so it makes sense that he’s on this episode. Um, Greg, you’re retired. So I was wondering if you could just briefly talk about what you’ve done and why you were selected to be on this episode?

Greg Devereaux

Well, I’ve been in state and local government for 40 years, ended up managing two cities in California, Fontana, California and then Ontario, California. For, in total a little over 17 years, then I went on to be the CEO of San Bernardino County, California, which is a rather large County, the largest geographic county in the United States. And out of the over 3000 counties, it is the 12th largest by population. So that makes it in territory larger than nine states, and then population larger than 14 states.

Alyssa Dinberg

Wow! That’s amazing. So you definitely know your finance.

Greg Devereaux

I’ve dealt with a lot of crises in finance and financial difficulties.

Alyssa Dinberg

So what should you do if there’s not enough momentum in your organization to address a crisis? I would imagine, having worked for such a large organization, you’ve seen your fair share of crises? What should you do if there’s not enough momentum? And if there aren’t enough people recognizing the seriousness of the problem?

Greg Devereaux

Well, first and foremost, it’s up to the city manager, CEO, the finance director to communicate as clearly as they can and as promptly as they can. Timely and accurate information to the decision makers and to the organization is critical. Now that the nature of the communication, though, is different, depending on whether you’re talking to the elected leaders or the community, or if you’re talking to staff. If you’re talking to the elected leaders in the community, you may be talking about potential service level and programmatic impacts, or cuts. And at the same time, it’s a good idea to be talking about some of the mitigation measures, to lessen those impacts, so that they understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. And they see that it could be worse, without those actions. With staff, you may be talking about something totally different, you may be talking about the impacts on compensation, and benefits, the potential for layoffs. And again, part of that discussion is getting them to understand the potential severity, if there is no action or action is delayed, and what can be done to mitigate those impacts.

Alyssa Dinberg

So what would you recommend the first step a local government to take?

Greg Devereaux

Well, the first step is really, you have to carefully analyze the severity of the problem, both short term and long term, and then develop a strategy for explaining and communicating the problem. Then you determine your approach to the development of solutions, is that going to be a very public process? How involved is the staff going to be or is it going to primarily be management and finance and the elected leadership? Analyze the impacts of the solutions and then choose a course of action.

Alyssa Dinberg

Okay. Shayne, do you have any perspectives on your side with the first step a local government should take?

Shayne Kavanagh

Sure. Absolutely. So I’m gonna go ahead and repeat the theme of consistency. And maybe a reference back to my first answer, which is that you have to recognize that a problem exists and develop the capacity to understand that problem. And that’s where I think the cash flow analysis tool comes in. So if you don’t have one of those, get one. And also going back to these idea of strategies to balance your budget, I think it’s a good idea to review what GFOA is calling the lower risk strategies in our Balancing the Budget in Bad Times report. Your goal should be to see what you can implement soon. If honestly, many of the lowest risk strategies that are in this report are the sort of things government should be doing even when times are good. So there’s really no reason not to consider them right now. And maybe one other thing I’ll add the supplements, what Greg was saying is, I think the Greg was talking about the making information available and communicating it to folks, I think the interactivity of your presentation can be very powerful, because the numbers we’re dealing with are often quite large, and people don’t deal with millions of dollars in their daily life. So when we say that we have a multi million dollar deficit or whatever, that’s going to be a pretty abstract concept to a lot of people. So having a presentation that allows them to change key variables otherwise, address and otherwise get an idea of what these numbers mean can be quite helpful. And just to give you a tangible example of that, one city that was doing some work on what developed a interactive model, where they show different scenarios of the future. And they said, well, here’s what things will like, or would be like if we just repeated the Great Recession. And the folks in the organization at the time, were around during the Great Recession. So they knew what that felt like. So this was an abstract concept to compare a future downturn, to something they had all been through. But that was one way to make the abstract or feel and kind of bring it home. And also say, you know, given our financial condition today, which is not great. In this particular government, they said they made the point that a future downturn could actually be a bit worse than the Great Recession. So that really motivated people to take the actions necessary to keep the government in a healthy and resilient state.

Alyssa Dinberg

So you kind of touched on this a little bit. Um, and I think a lot of people are probably thinking about this right now, with everything going on with COVID and the financial impacts of that. How can government’s address their needs in the short term without making things worse in the long run?

Shayne Kavanagh

Sure. Yeah, I think the leading idea there is, don’t put aside your long term thinking, have a vision for the future. And part of that might be something we call scenario planning. And the idea as well, you know, you can’t do a five year forecast, we don’t know it’s too uncertain. But you can look at possible futures, and then decide how you can develop what strategies you can follow today, to be maximally resilient in the future and having some good principles to guide those strategies can be quite powerful. I think Greg has a few excellent points from his experience about some habits that were built in the communities he has worked for that helped those communities weather bad financial times.

Greg Devereaux

All of the jurisdictions within which I worked, really did not adequately fund their long term liabilities or long term maintenance liabilities, didn’t have adequate reserve funds. And there are a number of impacts that arise from that kind of underfunding. When one of those jurisdictions, when I came in, did not have a pavement management program, for instance. So when we analyzed the pavement management program, we found that there was about a $50 million deficiency, to have all of the roads in good condition, not excellent condition, but just good condition. And they were spending about $2 million a year on road maintenance. The analysis showed that just to stay even, not to improve the situation, that we needed to be spending $4 million a year. So over a 10 year period, you would spend $20 million more. $50 million deficiency, however, because of the rate of deterioration of the system would grow into a $150 million deficiency over that same year period. So you could spend 20 million and still have a $50 million deficiency, if you didn’t, it grew by 100 million dollars to a $150 million. So there are significant impacts of underfunding reserves and under funding your liabilities, especially your maintenance liabilities. If they are all properly funded, you have more cash on hand. All of those jurisdictions when I went into them, were doing cash flow borrowings. Now that’s an added cost. That takes money away from services. And by the time we adequately funded the reserves, we no longer had to do those cash flow borrowings until taxes or revenues received.

Alyssa Dinberg

That’s definitely a really good example that is probably going to be very relevant for a lot of the people that are listening to this episode. So my next question, Shayne, I was hoping you could kick us off. And Greg, if you have anything to add to it, that’d be awesome. What are some relatively low risk measures that local governments can take to begin addressing some of the their immediate fiscal problems?

Shayne Kavanagh

Balancing the Budget in Bad Times, our paper, part one of that series is all about this. And just to pull off a few other examples that I haven’t already mentioned in our time here today, first example might be monitoring and limiting overtime costs. So it might not be unusual for overtime spending to be excessive based on loose management practices or loose scheduling. So there could be an opportunity to tighten that up. You might also think about auditing routine expenditures. A good example might be eligibility audits for healthcare. So for example, it’s not uncommon for let’s say, a someone to get divorced and their spouse to continue to be on their health insurance, even though they’re no longer eligible, or, you know, maybe children that have gotten too old or whatever else. But many other types of things like that, where they’re still being paid for by the government for benefits, even though they aren’t actually eligible for benefits. And our research into this shows that there’s a pretty consistent number of people in a government benefit plan that are on the plan but aren’t eligible for it. So if you have not done such an audit, recently, that might be a very good thing to do. And third example, is to look for opportunities for resource pooling, either internally or externally. So to give you an example, our research shows that motor pools internally are a very good opportunity for pooling resources internally, meaning multiple departments operating their own motor pools, there are economies of scale, that governments may be able to realize by consolidating those motor pools internally, or another example might even be risk, risk management. So it’s not uncommon for local governments to join regional insurance pools. You can do a similar thing internally. And Greg actually did this in San Bernardino County, where the idea is that as every department as part of their budget tends to budget a certain amount, lack or padding, right? If you’re a department head, you want to guard against the possibility that you are going to have to spend more money than you thought you were going to spend. So you want to have that extra money set aside, right? And let’s just think about this mathematically. Imagine you have 10 departments, and each department puts aside $1 million, because they believe they have a 10% chance of getting that $1 million. And if you’ve got 10 departments doing this, on average, you’re going to need $1 million, and departments times 10% as $1 million, right. But you’ve got in total padding a total of $10 million. There’s 10 departments doing this, which means you have $9 million too much padding every year. And those numbers are just made up for the ease of example, but in the research we’ve done, you’re talking like still talking like serious money that local governments can save by playing that sort of risk.

Greg Devereaux

Greg I think some other things that, I certainly agree with all the things that Shayne mentioned. I think other relatively low risk, things that you can do, hiring freezes, delaying purchases, delaying capital projects, furloughs, checking reserves to determine if any of them are overfunded, which can certainly happen, selective layoffs, reorganization, debt refinancing, if you have that opportunity, all of those things are relatively low risk.

Alyssa Dinberg

So we just talked about low risk. What about high risk? What are some high risk treatments that local governments can apply? Do you have any advice about utilizing any of these high risk treatments?

Shayne Kavanagh

Absolutely. Um, so the just a couple of examples of what we’re talking about with high risk is one kind of an obvious one might be deferring compensation. The classic example there’s a pension holiday where you know what, we’ll just not pay our annually required contribution and pay it later, or otherwise, just pushing your costs into the future. That would be the classic definition of kicking the can down the road. A another example that that’s a little more of a gray area might be early retirement incentives. And the idea there is well, we can stop paying the salaries and perhaps some of the benefits for folks if we offer them an incentive to retire early. Now the problem is, then your retirement costs go up, so you’ll pay more in the long term. So you have to weigh that against how likely you are to replace the folks that have retired. Meaning if the positions where the folks retired are filled immediately, you’re probably going to end up increasing your long term costs. But if you either eliminate or defer filling those positions for quite some time, perhaps ERI could be cost beneficial. So that is a risky one that you really need to run your numbers carefully to see if you would be doing yourself any good. Another example, Greg bought up refinancing debt kind of the other like riskier version of that is restructuring debt. And that’s where you’re changing around where the payments are occurring. And if you change your payments to kind of more backload, the debt like put off paying the debt, you could actually hurt your bond rating. And not to mention that future generations of elected officials find themselves more financially constrained than one more on hand, because maybe this is a more unexpected one is across the board budget cuts. So that’s where we just say, well, you know, we’re going to cut everyone’s budget by 5 or 10%. And the reason we say that’s risky is because it really does nothing to properly size and shape government, the challenges that it faces, because you’re essentially assuming with across the board budget cuts, that all departments are equally important, that all services that they offer are equally important. And of course, that’s not the case, there are going to be some services that are more important than others. So it’s important to prioritize what services you’re going to offer and focus your cuts accordingly. I think the second part of your question was, what advice might we have for using these types of techniques. So kind of first part of that is just know your risk. So not all of those are created equal. So for example, across the board budget cuts, like yes, you know, might you be not shaping your government optimally, to the situation that you’re in? That’s not good. But you know, let’s say, a pension holiday where you are increasing the size of your pension liability, that could lead to some really serious financial problems down the line. So I wouldn’t say that those two techniques, though, they’re both considered risky, I wouldn’t consider them equally risky. So I think we have to judge throughout the risk and the GFOA reports, does do that. We give you some guidance on which of these techniques are or are riskier or less risky. And then once you are like committed to having to use some risky techniques, because I think it’s probably unavoidable that local governments are going to have to use some of these, you want to think about four things. Number one being the size of the budget gap you have, so the larger the gap, the more risk you’re going to have to take to close it. The service impact. So what level of impact will be on the services that you’re offering? So will this cause the services to increase, decrease or stay the same? And obviously, probably increase is not going to happen. But will it stay the same? Or will it decrease? And I think something that more governments are rightfully more mindful of nowadays is equity impact. So on who does the impact of service cuts fall? So thinking about that to make sure that there are underserved communities that would bear the brunt of any types of service cuts that you have to engage in. And then think also about the feasibility of the reduction. So is this a strategy that you can reasonably implement? And then finally, is political support. There will be elected officials go along with it because you only have so much political capital of burn. So we have to think about where that global capital is spent.

Alyssa Dinberg

So my next question is, how important is it communicating with your governing board? You talked a little bit about this briefly, Shayne, and or the public in times of financial crisis? What advice can GFOA give in this regard?

Shayne Kavanagh

Sure. So it was like a little research I’d like to bring into this. A couple years back, we surveyed the GFOA members of a couple different states. In a survey, we asked them to nominate their peers in the state who they felt were the most trustworthy finance officers. And we then tallied up all the votes, and we had a list of most trusted finance officers in the States. And we then interviewed those folks about what they do, and how they conduct themselves that make them trustworthy. And one of the repeated themes that came up is that delivering bad news well can be an opportunity to build trust. And we derived a three part formula for delivering bad news well, which I think applies, we’ll say all too well in our current environment. So whenever you’re communicating with people about the financial crisis, I’d suggest thinking about these three rules. And the first rule is to be prompt. And the idea is that you want to get information to people as soon as possible. And that’s important for a couple reasons. Number one, the sooner they have the information, the sooner they can act on it. If you wait, and then they then have to make a rushed decision, they will probably not be happy about that. And the second reason that’s important is because you want to be the first to get information in front of people, because you want to essentially write on a blank slate. Because research shows that people are undiscerning listeners and tend to believe the first things that they hear. And it is more difficult to dislodge an existing belief than it is to create a new belief. So let’s say there’s misinformation potentially, you want to get there first with the real correct information so that misinformation has to dislodge the correct information. If you wait and the misinformation gets out there first, correct information has to dislodge the information. And the correctness or lack of correctness is not really salient and how hard it is to do that dislodging. So being first is very important. The next part of our three part rules to be straight. And in the words of the folks from our research is don’t sugarcoat and don’t go doom and gloom. And the idea there is pretty simple is that if people find out later that the problem was exaggerated one way or the other, they may feel manipulated, and you certainly don’t want that. And then the last part of our rule is to provide solutions, and the quote of our people in our research was to don’t drop the problem in people’s lap. Come prepared with a limited number of solutions for people to consider. And the key word there is limited number because the research also shows here that if you give people too many options, they essentially become paralyzed, because they have, they’re overwhelmed. So giving people a limited number of options to pick from, reasonable options to pick from that is, gives people a feeling of voice and agency in the solution, but without overwhelming them with information.

Alyssa Dinberg

That’s great. That’s really good information. Really, really helpful. Thank you. Um, so Greg, can you tell us what the single most important piece of advice you would give to a local government facing today’s financial crisis? Single most I know, just pick one.

Greg Devereaux

I would say cut early and cut deep. And the reason I say that is because the cost of inaction compounds. The other reason I say that is if you cut early and you cut deeply enough, from that point on you are building back. I’ve seen those that cut bit by bit by bit. And the organizations and the community essentially dies, the death of a 1000 cuts. And the all the organization in the community gets focused on is what’s the next impact? What’s the next cut in service. So if you cut deeply enough, and you cut early enough, first, you’re going to minimize the impact. But if you cut deeply enough, from that moment on the organization, and the community is focused on rebuilding.

Alyssa Dinberg

Is there a concern with a situation like this, where you don’t actually know the true impact of the crisis, that you could cut too much. I mean, I get that you have, you can always build back. But what if you lay off a bunch of people, and you eliminate services, but then the, the impact isn’t actually as bad as you thought it was going to be?

Greg Devereaux

I’ve never run into a situation where you’ve cut too much. Because you can always add the services back in, you can always restart the capital project. And even if you’ve created a surplus, because you cut deeply, that money really then becomes opportunity money to build back. So, though, I understand the point that yes, you may have reduced services more than you needed, but the risk, the downside risk of it going the other direction, and needing to cut and cut, while the costs are compounding and the impacts are compounding to me is greater than the downside of maybe cutting too much.

Alyssa Dinberg

Okay, that definitely makes sense. Um, Shayne, did you have anything you wanted to add to that?

Shayne Kavanagh

Yeah, I would say I agree with Greg. And maybe just to add on to what he was saying is, I think, Greg, if I understand your point as well, if a layered approach, meaning like, for example, if you defer a capital project, there’s a relatively low cost to starting back up again. So some of these things, if you’ve got a whole portfolio of cuts, not all of them are going to you know, perhaps have the human cost that Alyssa was referring to or concerned about. So by taking this kind of portfolio, different cuts, you can cut deep because your …. will be a lot easier to undo than others, right. So once, if you’ve got enough reversible cuts in your portfolio of cuts, then it’s going to be a lot easier to do what Greg is doing, as opposed to like the irreversible type of cuts that I think, you know, would be quite painful. And I think would probably have the negative impact that you’re concerned about.

Alyssa Dinberg

So Shayne can should a local government just try to get through the crisis? Or should they have a bigger goal in mind? I think it’s really hard, especially right now not knowing what the future looks like. So having a bigger goal in mind is probably really hard. What’s your advice on this?

Shayne Kavanagh

Yeah, I think it goes back to something Greg was saying. If you fall into the trap, where you’re constantly cutting back, you are going to end up in what’s called a bunker or a siege mentality, where in a bunker, this is a kind of very well known phenomenon in cut back environments where people just hunker down, try to preserve the status quo as best they can and become very resistant types of innovation and moving forward. So with Greg’s advice in mind, we would suggest that you try to come out the other side stronger as an explicit goal. And don’t let a good crisis go to waste. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities here for people to consider ideas that they would not have considered when times are good, right. So when you have a financial crisis, people might be willing to take a look at some ideas that just were not going to be practical just a short time ago.

Greg Devereaux

I would totally agree with what Shayne just said. In the three jurisdictions that I was fortunate enough to manage, we utilized the crises, the financial crises in each instance, to restructure the organization. And in each instance, were able to come out stronger and more resilient. The other thing that I would say to people is that even during the crises, you have to be building a an organization and a fiscal plan that can withstand the next emergency, and the next downturn. So it is an opportunity to restructure, to do things differently, to right size, and to be better prepared for the next crises, and a much more resilient organization.

Alyssa Dinberg

Thank you so much. So those are all the questions I have. Do you have anything else that you want to talk about?

Greg Devereaux

Shayne can go on for a long time about GFOA and all the materials it has and the approaches it has.

Alyssa Dinberg

I would definitely encourage the listeners, if you’re wanting to learn more, please check out GFOA’s website. It is a, there are just tons of resources on there. And I’m sure that Shayne would be willing to chat with anyone that’s having questions about this or that wants to use the first aid. I think that ends our episode for today. I do have one more question. And we end every episode like this. If you could be the GovLove DJ for this episode, what song would you choose as our exit music?

Greg Devereaux

I think I would choose Aretha Franklin’s Respect. Because it’s all about respecting the community and the organization and doing the right things in your local government.

Alyssa Dinberg

That’s a great song. What about you, Shayne?

Shayne Kavanagh

Sure. GFOA hasn’t invented the gfoa.org/FFA, song. I can’t suggest that. But in the absence of that, I will suggest Billy Bragg Tomorrow’s Going To Be A Better Day. Because I think it goes back to our answer before is you want to come out the other side stronger. And that’s having a positive outlook I think is very important.

Alyssa Dinberg

I love that song. Both really good selections. Well thank you again for coming on today’s episode, I learned a lot and I know this will be really helpful for the listeners. GovLove is produced by a rotating cast of awesome ELGL volunteers. ELGL is the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. Our vision is to amplify the good in local government and we do this by engaging the brightest minds. For our listeners, you can reach us at elgl.org/govlove or on twitter at @Govlovepodcast. And if you have a story for GovLove, we want to hear it. Send us a message on Twitter or email [email protected] Thanks for listening. This has been GovLove, a podcast about local government.


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