Orange County Florida Research Paper

Pages: 6 (1613 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government

Orange County, Florida: Public Administration and Employment

Agency Selected:

Orange County is a region in South Florida which contains the city of Orlando and twelve additional cities. The agency charged as the governing body in Orange County is a charter government, meaning that it is a self-governing county guided by its own constitution. According to Jacobs (2011), the first edition of the county constitution was adopted in 1986, going into effect in 1987. (p. 50)

The charter is evaluated for amendment every four years through the creation of a Charter Review Commission, with an 18-month period being designated within which 15 volunteers engage in a deliberative review of the terms of the charter, incorporating voter input into potentially needed policy changes.

With respect to the above-noted voter population, Jacobs reports that as of the 2009 census, Orange County's population was estimated at 1,108,882. The text goes further to note that this is a 24% increase in population since 2000, with the largest city of Orlando boasting of a population of 233,115 residents, up 47,164 from 2000. (Jacobs, p. 51)

Purpose and structure:

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The charter provided Orange County with a specific structure within which governing functions are performed. The text provided by Jacobs reports that upon the original inception of the charter, the city was governed by a Chairman and six 'single-member' districts, though by 2004, the Chairman's title would be changed to mayor. This structure also provided for term limitations and denotes the parameters for holding county elections. The Jacobs text reports that "the Mayor and Commissioners serve overlapping four- year terms. The Mayor and Commissioners for districts 2, 4, and 6 are elected during alternate years (2010 and 2014); commissioners representing districts 1, 3, and 5 are elected in presidential election years (2012 and 2016)." (p. 50) The current mayor of Orange County is Teresa Jacobs, a Republic official who took office in January of this year.

Research Paper on Orange County Florida Assignment

In addition to this leadership apparatus, the agency is subject to a system of comprehensive checks and balances. External to the immediate leadership structure of the Orange County seat of government, the County Comptroller serves in a role as an overseer of all public administrative affairs within the county. The current County Comptroller, Martha O. Haynie, provides a publicly available website through which citizens can view documents relating to public affairs in the county and its individual incorporated cities. The website demonstrates the role of the County Comptroller both in terms of the provision of oversight and in terms of the distribution of information to the general public. According to Haynie's informational website, "the County Comptroller, an elected official answering directly to the citizens of Orange County, examines the use of County resources. This function serves as a check and balance, and results in the greatest accounting integrity and safeguarding of public assets. The services performed by the County Comptroller can be classified into three broad categories: financial, audit, and records administration. The Comptroller's specific roles include: serving as chief financial officer, county auditor, clerk of the board, recorder, and custodian of county funds and records." (p. 1)

According to Jacobs, there are additionally a number of elected positions used to fill offices throughout the agency. The Jacobs text reports that Orange County residents elect Circuit Court Judges, the State Attorney, the Public Defender, County Commissioners, County Court Judges, the Sheriff, the Clerk of Court, the County Comptroller above-noted, the tax collector, the property appraiser, a supervisor of elections, the school board chair and school board members. (Jacobs, p. 54) In addition to possessing a stake in its government's policies and affairs by engaging in public elections, the citizens of Orange County are regularly invited to attend public hearings on matters of note. Accordingly, Jacobs reports that public hearings are initiated in relation to "Items of critical importance to the public matters that affect individual rights of citizens, tax or budget issues, land use and zoning approvals, adoption of ordinances, etc." (p. 55)

Written Policies and Contracts:

In addition to its charter, Orange County is governed by publicly drawn legislation and a host of policies typical of a county operation. To this end, it draws a significant portion of its revenue from taxation, with 26% of its budget accounted for thusly. (Jacobs, p. 52) Though not an unchangeable policy, the Jacobs text does report that Orange County has not raised its property tax rate in 20 years. It is able to operate this way because it draws 36% of its annual revenue from funds unspent in the previous fiscal year. (Jacobs, p. 52-53) The remainder of its revenue comes from its interwoven relationships with other government agencies at the state and federal level, from fees charged for various Public Administration services and from "Various smaller funds including interest earnings, contributions, rent, licenses, permits, fines, forfeitures, and impact fees." (Jacobs, p. 53) Additionally, as the home of Disney World theme park and resorts, Orange County does bring in a considerable revenue from local, national and international tourism.

With respect to the contracts that drive Orange County government operations, the agency is charged with a wide array of functions. Among them, its orientation toward public safety requires employment contracts with corrections facilities, law enforcement agencies, emergency management staffs, emergency medical services, building, zoning and fire rescue services, to name a few. (Jacobs, p. 53) Similarly, Orange County's oversight of Transportation demands requires employment contracts with Traffic Engineering groups, roads and drainage services, highway construction, street light districting, transit authority and civil engineering, among others. (Jacobs, p. 53) Its oversight of Human Services requires Orange County to hold employment contracts with Medical and public health clinics, animal control, social services and a host of child advocacy service groups. Ultimately, this denotes that Orange County, like many county seats of government, is responsible for a very wide array of employment contracts fitting under numerous government agency categories.

Employee Training and Development:

Research evidence persists to suggest that government employees often experience a greater degree of satisfaction due to the higher level of transparency and accountability required of such agencies. As the discussion on the County Comptroller above notes, Orange County is structurally committed to this transparency and accountability. This denotes that employee development is likely to be well-served in such an atmosphere. According to the research conducted by Vandenabeele (2008), "a sample of 1714 final year masters students demonstrates that the presence of public service motivation positively correlates with the preference for prospective public employers. For government organizations that display a high degree of publicness, the effect of public service motivation as a predictor for employer preference is stronger." (p. 1089)

This denotes that the working experience and occupational ambitions of young and developing public administration professionals are well-served in a context where openness is demanded. This serves to improve morale and productivity while simultaneously courting qualified recruits and creating a context where their retention is likely. Such is further underscored by the use of highly developed employee benefit programs. According to the Orange County (OC1) informational web portal, employees enjoy a wide variety of benefits which are protected by a collective bargaining agreement between the county seat of government and the government worker's labor union. These benefits include but are not limited to full medical coverage including preventive care, prescription coverage, spouse and family plans, dental coverage, bi-annual wellness screening, life insurance and the full array of retirement, pension and fund-matching plans. (OC1, p. 1)

Recommendations/Observations:

The quality of life in Orange County, Florida rates rather high, as denoted by the population growth, the relative fiscal responsibility of the local government and the steady tax rate across two decades. For residents of Orange County, this suggests that public administration has performed well. Recommendations are driven primarily by the interest of protecting this positive performance. The… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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