Doing More with Less: It’s All about Change

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By The Staff

Marion County faces one of the greatest crossroads in its history as we confront tough economic times and work to meet the critical needs of our citizens. Indeed, a new day has dawned in Marion County, and we are moving forward with plans to improve services countywide. Admittedly, the start of my tenure as Marion County Administrator certainly had its share of controversy and publicity. Though we cannot change the past, we can learn and grow from it. Instead of using mere words to build your trust and confidence, I will strive to exceed your expectations with our action-oriented, results-driven plan entitled "Doing More with Less: It’s All about Change."

My talented staff and I created this plan in less than six weeks to serve as a road map for Marion County’s success. As we implement this 118-page document, I am confident we will improve services and cut costs. Marion County Commissioners unanimously adopted the plan on April 21, 2009, which resulted in an immediate $2.3 million budget cut without reducing services. We also presented a balanced 2009-10 budget, currently under board review, and conducted a bottom-up review of our operations to improve efficiency.

At various times, you may not have received the services you expected. However, Marion County Commissioners have high expectations for success and so should you. Over the coming months, your Marion County government will put into action our motto of Meeting Needs by Exceeding Expectations and implement significant changes that are long overdue.

Under my administration, you will get answers to your questions and so much more. If we do not know the answer, we will track it down. If we are not the most appropriate agency to solve a problem, we will find out who is responsible. We are dedicated to providing you the excellent customer service you deserve.

For our citizens, we pledge to accommodate your needs with a sense of urgency and immediacy. We vow to simplify complex issues and give volume to your voice during the decision-making process. Our 1,498 dedicated Marion County employees, our most valuable resource, will help champion these initiatives.

For our municipalities and business partners, we look forward to continued and expanded cooperation in areas that make sense. We are committed to accessible and ethical government that engages all segments of our community. Within three years, I want Marion County to set the standard for quality local government and become Florida’s "go-to" public entity. Our "Doing More with Less" plan is just the start.

Highlights from "Doing More with Less"

Internal and External Communication

Unresponsive and inaccessible government is unacceptable. That is why I have identified internal and external communication as my top priority. To improve our responsiveness, I have expanded the Office of Public Information and created the Office of Strategic Services using in-house resources. These offices will improve accountability and customer service, providing our 339,000 citizens answers to their questions.

Economic Development

With 12 percent of Marion Countians unemployed, we are working to stimulate diversified and sustainable economic growth. For the first time ever, Marion County has partnered with the Economic Development Corporation and the city of Ocala to develop a joint economic development plan and unified position on funding infrastructure. Together, we have identified several potential industrial/business park opportunities. Most recently, we all worked together to keep Intellon Corporation and its 60-plus jobs in our community.

Solid Waste

You can burn it, bury it or haul it away. These are our three solid waste disposal options. Burning it with a waste-to-energy incinerator is a futuristic but very expensive concept used in some European and Asian countries. We can bury it for only six more years because the Baseline Landfill will reach its capacity. We need a new landfill, but I do not think I will find one person who wants us to build it near their home. We tried to haul it, but that proved inefficient. Solving our solid waste problems will not be easy, but we are researching various options and seeking partnerships. We will identify solutions as well as create a cohesive and practical model.

Water Resources

Springs protection remains Marion County’s main legislative priority. In a historic move on June 2, Marion County Commissioners approved a Springs Protection Ordinance that will improve the water quality of our first magnitude springs, including Rainbow Springs and Silver Springs. The ordinance, more than four years in the making, encourages proactive measures such as low impact development, advanced stormwater systems and Florida-friendly landscaping. However, this ordinance serves as the first step, not the final step, to protecting Marion County’s most precious resource — water.



Marion County crews currently maintain 2,800 miles of roads throughout our community. That sounds like a lot, but with Marion County’s vast 1,600 square mile territory, we need to add $800 million in new roads. We also need to find viable solutions for our 400 miles of unpaved county roads. New funding sources are now available that will help pay for significant improvements to our transportation infrastructure. Meanwhile, we are researching methods to make this more affordable to taxpayers.

Because progress is an evolution, not a revolution, these changes will undoubtedly take time. My staff and I are up for the challenge, but we cannot accomplish our goals without you. I look forward to hearing your suggestions for continued improvement as we move forward and work to exceed your expectations.

Dr. Lee A. Niblock became Marion County Administrator on February 28, 2009, after serving as Marion County’s Community Resources Bureau Chief and Parks and Recreation Department Director for more than six years. You may reach him at (352) 438-2300 or lee.niblock@marioncountyfl.org.