Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wal-Mart veteran has streamlined plan for Bosque

Meridian – You look at the resumé, and, you realize right away, Dewey Ratliff is at heart a manager - and a trouble shooter.

Dewey Ratliff (r) chats up DA B. J. Shepherd (l)
It just jumps off the page.

Wearing the hat of Emergency Management Coordinator, he has done all the things he wants to do as an elected official, County Judge.

I'm crossing over to the dark side,” he says with a chuckle. “I always said I would never put my name on a ballot.”

According to his campaign announcement, “expanding the tax base, professional budget planning and cash-flow management” are goals for what has become essentially an elected position of county executive.

Tax base? The truth is, state and federal government has for the past 10 years that Ratliff has held his position of emergency boss pushed unfunded mandates on a rural county with a limited source of revenues.

What to do?

Write a grant, get it approved, and get funding for the things it takes to stay abreast of the demands of a 21st century world from within the matrix of an ancient and honorable system of “Court” handed down from the days of the Shireve, the Lord of the Manor, and all the other growing pains that came out of the world of an island nation far across seas emerging from the dark ages in a cleaner, greener world managed from blood-spattered castles far from Texas.

His vision, “to create an environment which allows the county to become more efficient,” is rooted in his experience as a Wal-Mart manager who operated retail stores of 125,000 square feet, annual sales of $50 million and $35,000 weekly payrolls.

Just in time inventory control, consolidation of employees, and turning work forces of 300 who had never shopped in a Wal-Mart store are routine challenges.

Where does the money come from?

It's more of an exercise in looking for where it goes, according to a statement on Ratliff's Facebook page.

Traditionally, commissioners are tasked with the maintenance of roads and bridges,” he wrote.

The reality is this. They “often delegate that specific duty to their shop foreman.” The result is simple enough, they are “paid a full-time salary for part-time work.”

Four precinct road commissioners get paid $40,000 a year to make two meetings a month. That is a total of $160,000 a year for two days work each month, he reasons.

Halve those salaries and hire a civil engineer to supervise road and bridge maintenance and operations, said Ratliff, when he tossed his hat in the ring.

He wants to consolidate the precincts and tables of equipment and organization into a unified system, sell off the surplus property, and manage from a single source of supply and resources.

His background: an undergraduate degree in aeronautics, MBA from Notre Dame and Mendoza College of Business, experience in the Army, as a headhunter for industry and finance.

The challenges: water planning, a viable financing system for emergency medical services.

His past track record wearing multiple hats: Homeland Security Director, Floodplain Administrator, Loss Control Coordinator, Radio and Network Communications System Administrator, Incident Management Team, and 911 Addressing.

To get those jobs done, he brought in $4 million in federal grants to the county. The people paid their taxes, but they had to apply to get the benefits. This guy handled the process, and it worked.

Ratliff is “blessed” with three teenagers and a wife named Julie Pederson who is an emergency room nurse and a certified social worker. They all live on a family farm in the Norse Community.

The bottom line: “We can improve the effectiveness of how we spend taxpayer's money.”

An evaluation from a former supervisor, Kathie McWherter, Director of Integration at Wal-Mart International, “Dewey is a well-balanced individual who knows when to look at the big picture and when to focus on detail. He is a great leader of people and will always do the right things in the right way.” 

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