DiNapoli Publishes Cost Savings Ideas
to Help Local Governments Save Tax Dollars
Looking to help local governments cut expenses and stretch tax dollars, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a report today that provides suggestions to reduce or contain costs in a variety of programs, including healthcare and energy – two of the fastest growing expenses local governments face today.
“When expenses outpace inflation and revenues are stagnant or declining, local government officials are forced to make very difficult decisions to raise taxes, reduce services, or both,” DiNapoli said. “The economic crisis is dictating a new course of action for local government. Officials need to examine new ways to reduce expenses without decimating services.”
DiNapoli’s report highlights what several local governments are already doing across New York to address the increasing costs of health care, energy, public safety and other areas. “Some of these strategies are inexpensive and can be implemented quickly; others require professional assistance or an up-front investment but yield long-term savings. Regardless, local government officials must continue to explore new ways to cut or contain costs without sacrificing vital services. I will continue to help identify cost-saving strategies and best practices. In the current environment, every dime counts” said DiNapoli.
The report includes the following savings and cost reduction strategies:
- Payments in Lieu of Health Insurance Benefits – DiNapoli’s office released an audit report in January regarding local governments who use a health insurance buyback program. Five local governments together saved more than $4 million over a three-year period.
- Medicaid Fraud Detection – Some larger counties have invested in Medicaid fraud detection software, which provides information on specific Medicaid cases and identifies anomalies, helping them recoup millions of dollars. Onondaga County indicated it saved taxpayers more than $1.8 million in the first seven months of 2008. Chemung County also reported saving more than $1 million in social service expenses.
- Co-Pay Rebate Program – A DiNapoli audit on containing the cost of health insurance benefits highlights how Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) saved as much as $470,000 on health insurance premiums in 2006.
- Computer Power Management – DiNapoli’s office released an audit of computer power management which found that school districts statewide could save an estimated $11 million annually by enabling power save settings and/or shutting down computers during periods of inactivity.
- Energy Audits – The Town of Clarkstown in Rockland County used results from a 2007 NYSERDA energy audit of 12 municipal buildings to gather baseline information and determine how much electricity, fuel and natural gas the town’s buildings were using and provide options for improving efficiency.
- Vehicle Fleet – The City of Rochester cut costs by concentrating on shrinking its fleet of municipal vehicles. The City made it a priority to shrink the size of the fleet of take-home cars used by city employees. Monroe County has also focused on “greening” its fleet and currently has about six dozen alternative energy vehicles, ranging from public works trucks to patrol cars. Some towns have installed Global Positioning Systems in vehicles to establish more efficient routes.
OTHER EXAMPLES FROM OSC AUDITS
- Street Lighting – A recent audit of the Cities of Cortland, Ithaca and Oneonta and the Towns of Fallsburg and Vestal found that, by bonding to purchase their lighting systems from local electric utility companies, they could achieve potential aggregate cost savings of more than $13 million over the term of the bonds.
- Use of State Contracts – Local governments purchase goods and services through a competitive bidding process. As an alternative to seeking competitive bids, local governments can use contracts offered by the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) or county contracts to reduce costs and take advantage of economies of large-scale acquisitions. A recent audit of eight cities and towns not using State or county contracts could have realized aggregate savings of 4.6 percent on purchases of many common highway department supplies.
For more examples, view the full report.