Game changer: The economy


Prior to his current position as operations director for the Village of Wauconda, Ill., David Lawry, PE, served as the public services director for the nearby city of Elgin for 14 years. He also served as Elgin's public works director for three years and as a civil engineer for seven years. Lawry is a former member of the APWA National Board of Directors, and served in all the officer positions of the APWA Chicago Metro Chapter at both the branch and chapter levels. Photo: APWA



Many people consider lower property values, wages, and pensions a temporary condition that will improve as the world's economy recovers. But not David Lawry.

“I see these adjustments as more permanent with long-lasting effects,” he says. “Staffs will have to work longer and harder and need to find innovative ways to meet the needs of their communities.”

Lawry offers two justifications for his conclusion:

  • With technology enabling employees to work further from their office, employers are maintaining service levels with less head count.
  • More public-private and public-public partnerships are taking place to share and reduce costs.

Instead of reducing staffing and services or raising taxes, consider other ways of enhancing efficiencies. Residents, for example, aren't just customers; they're also potential partners.

“Examples are community beautification, snow clearing, fall leaf collection, brush pick up, yard-waste collection, and solid waste collection,” Lawry says. “All were at one time provided solely by the municipality, but are now shared with the community in some form to reduce costs.”