Committee aims to lower cost, raise efficiency

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has appointed another committee, and this one may have the most impact of any on the city.

Since his first term in 2013, the mayor has appointed several committees to examine potential city policy, oversee the city’s budget, and oversee the hiring of companies to develop the sports complex and the bypass road from U.S. 61 South to Halls Ferry Road, and more recently named six-member government accountability and service consolidating committee.

And this committee may have more positive impact on the city’s future than any committee he’s named since taking office; it’s a move in the right direction for more efficient, cost effective government.

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“This committee will be looking at real dollar for dollar savings, not projected (anticipated) savings,” Flaggs said. “We’ve got to get this government under control. We’ve got 500 and something employees and we’ve got to do something.”

Those 500 employees, according to the city’s accounting department, have a total payroll — with benefits — that consumes 64.37 percent of the city’s fiscal 2018 general fund budget,

“We’re going to look at every division and evaluate and see whether or not we can get savings. We’re going to look at some innovative, creative ways to running government without diminishing the quality of service. If you’re going to work for the city, you’re going to work.”

The committee’s job will be examining which jobs or departments can be eliminated or consolidated, and how cross training can be implemented so employees to do more than one job. It will examine each job opening to determine if it is really necessary to keep the city running.

Most of the changes, the mayor said, will be made through attrition as employees quit or retire, eliminating the fear of layoffs.

With less revenue coming in, state and local governments have to be watching every penny and looking for ways to save money and become more efficient in providing services to their customers, in this case, the taxpayers who are the recipients of the services government provides, and stakeholders in their governments’ future.

That’s what makes this committee important. Its decisions will determine ways how the city can provide services to its residents at a lower cost and with better efficiency in the future.

Having that oversight can only improve city operations, but it should have been implemented much sooner.