Newberry Announces Cost-Cutting Initiatives

Mayor Jim Newberry today announced several steps he has taken to improve government efficiency and effectiveness.

“This has been a key goal that we have been working on since the start of the administration, and we will continue to work on until the end of the administration,” said Newberry, who made a more efficient, effective government a cornerstone of his campaign.

It’s vital that we cut costs given the significant bills we have facing us in the future, Newberry said.

First, the Mayor unveiled a project that will consolidate and update government printers, saving $210,000 annually. Printing costs will be cut in half, from 5 cents to 2.5 cents per page. The number of printers in city offices in the Government Center, Switow Building, Police Headquarters and Phoenix Building will drop from 527 to 127, a 76 percent reduction.

“The city currently has too many printers and they are an older technology that is expensive to maintain,” Newberry said. “Under this plan we will have fewer printers, but we will also have newer printers for employees to share, with increased access to color printing.” Newberry thanked LexMark consultants for their assistance in devising the savings plan.

Secondly, the Mayor announced that 50 fewer employees were working for the government at the end of June than when the administration began on Jan. 1. On Dec. 31, 2006, 2905 people were full-time, permanent employees. On June 30, 2007, 2,855 people were full-time, permanent employees.

In addition, the Mayor has taken 56 employee positions permanently off the books, so they cannot be filled in the future. In his April budget address, the Mayor promised to reduce the workforce by 25 positions through attrition by the end of June, a goal he has far exceeded.

Altogether, the savings in the personnel budget is about $3.9 million.

A third major cost-cutting initiative Newberry has undertaken, the management audit, is now in process. It will build on the reorganization of government Newberry initiated at the same time the budget was being prepared. The goal of both the reorganization and the audit is to enable government to better address key community concerns, focus on common goals set out by the administration and council and realize additional operating efficiencies.

This month, management consultants, Management Partners from Cincinnati, have been interviewing city staffers from across government. Their final audit report, expected near the end of the year, will take an overall look at all government operations.

The consultants will first look for opportunities to streamline internal government processes by eliminating unnecessary processes that increase costs or are cumbersome and inefficient.

They will also analyze products and services that directly affect the public, again hoping to streamline operations so that the city becomes more user-friendly and is better able to respond quickly to citizen requests.

Costs must be cut in order to save taxpayers’ resources to meet several significant obligations facing our city, Newberry said. Actuaries for the city’s police and firefighters’ pension fund estimate that there is a $221 million unfunded liability in the fund. In addition, the city received a judgment against it in favor of beneficiaries of the police and firefighters’ pension fund in an amount estimated to be in excess of $20 million. The administration inherited a government that had repeatedly deferred maintenance on city buildings, making costly repairs a necessity; and the financial impact of the EPA’s enforcement action concerning the pollution in our streams will require both additional cost-cutting and fee increases.

While acknowledging that the city has more work ahead of it to get its budget under control, Newberry said the cost-cutting measures he has already taken represent a “significant change in the way we do business at city hall. We are looking for ways to make local government better, faster and cheaper.”

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