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The Dude goes into politics! - The Grim Reality

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Part 3 - The Dude's Plan!

Let's make it short; to make money, you need money. Or, in our case, to spend money, you need money.

As I mentioned in the previous chapter, on papers there's a lot of potential to develop, but in order to do that one needs enough money to fully pursue a project, otherwise it makes little sense to do small things "just because you can".. don't get me wrong, something is always better than nothing, but in this case you don't really need to have a dream or a goal, you just get along with what you get and, with all the due respect, you don't need a professional for that. The reason why I joined this group of people, it was mostly to help them to improve on that regard, to show them how to actively pursue a project and what's needed in order to get to a goal, one way or another. I'd say that it's not really a matter of will, rather than of experience and opportunities: I don't think I'm better than anyone else of the lads and lasses that are together with me in this team, but I'm certainly the more experienced in terms of professional business and organization, and in a certain sense, I have the advantage of being politically neutral, which means that I can go to knock on every door, without the fear of being ignored just because I side with someone (on the other hand, one can also say that in this case you cannot ask for favors in return, but all in all I definitely prefer to be "free and alone", than part of the system).

However, as said, money is the key here.. and unfortunately, if there's something we don't have, than that's money
There are various reason for that, the first being of course the general "bad" situation of my country (recession mostly, which in turn affects the welfare and the public funding).. over the last 15 years all the Municipalities, especially those below 5000 people (the so called "small Municipalities") have suffered from a constant reduction of the money available, coupled by a sensible increase of some fixed costs (such as the electricity for public illumination); I won't go into technicalities, but to give you an idea: the yearly expenses of my Municipality are around 2.5 millions €, of which only 100 thousands are "available" money that you can plan to spend on something not fixed, the rest goes for salaries, planned maintenance, bills, etc. The available money is really ridiculous, imagine that in order to pave (with asphalt) some 300 mt of road, one needs about 45 thousands €... my Municipality has around 180 km of roads (most of which in bad conditions), not counting the dirt ones... and, really, this is just the tip of the iceberg...

You know that I come from business... and you can imagine how much I'm frustrated by this situation: we have the potential, we have the ideas, we have the will.. but we lack the means; in business (especially in sales) one can always go the extra mile and find a way or another to gather more money (i.e. working hard to find more customers, expanding the products portfolio, etc), but this is clearly impossible in a public administration, so you have to go another route, projects, that is. What's a project then? Basically, whether you are participating in a "public tender" or you are doing a "feasibility study", you need to have a professional prepare said project (which can be of any kind, actually) and hope for it to be accepted and founded. One could say that it does not look so difficult, after all it's a normal procedure, but there are plenty of cons in this system.. well because the system is flawed, that is.

First, the municipality is supposedly paying an "engineer" (very wide term) and a surveyor as full time employees to work mostly on those projects and only secondarily on other minor stuff (like planning maintenance, urgent interventions, etc).. no need to say that it's totally the other way around: they work almost exclusively on secondary stuff and only very rarely (if pushed, that is) they invest their time on the main projects.. ok I'm not going to dig deeper, I'm already sufficiently angry about that . However, because of this situation, we have to rely on the support of external people, who of course want to be paid: any "project manager" requests a payment of about 10 to 15% of the total value of the project, which is fair.. the problem is that they want to be paid in any case, no matter if the project is approved or not.

Second, the most part of those projects aren't totally funded: only 5% are so (basically only those directly managed by the Regional Administration), another 65% are funded at 80%, the remaining 25% at 50%... ah, and the VAT is counted apart. So let's make an example: a standard (80% founding) project worth 1 million €, has a fixed cost of about 120 thousands for the project manager, 200 thousands that you have to pick out of your pocket, plus another 220 thousands of VAT... let's assume that for the most the cost of the project manager is absorbed within the project itself, you now have 880 thousands, which will cost you 440 thousands.. needless to say that we desperately try to purse only those projects that can be founded at 100% (which will cost us VAT in any case). On the positive side, the very small projects and tenders are always founded at 100% with no VAT (this because that money is used to repay another expense, rather than to develop a brand new project), but the amounts are totally ridiculous and overall in one year the total isn't going above 20-25 thousands.

To add for the worst, I have to deal daily with bureaucracy, as you will learn in the next chapter, The Ugly Beast!

Updated September 17, 2019 at 07:09 AM by Flinn

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  1. Flinn's Avatar
    I've just posted Part 5 - The Ugly Beast.