Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Cincinnati Could Save Millions if Recommendations Implemented

The city of Cincinnati could save over five million dollars if six of the eleven recommendations from a recently released performance audit by the office of Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost are implemented.

The current city budget stands in at a whopping $1.3 billion, so a paltry $5 million may not sound like a lot to the politicians, but enacting these reforms could save first responder jobs the next time the city falls short on cash.

The six reforms and the amount of savings from each are as follows:

• $1.098 million could be saved by privatizing waste collection. On a side note, this number did not take in to account a one-time sale of city-owned equipment.
• $933,400 could be saved by privatizing street sweeping.
• $796,600 could be saved if the city would reduce overtime pay to peer city averages.
• $473,000 could be saved if the city would eliminate 10 full time positions in the Traffic and Road Division and consolidate those responsibilities.
• $215,991 could be saved if the city reduced sick and injury pay to state average levels.
• $196,300 could be saved if the city eliminated 3.5 full time supervisory positions in the Facilities Management Division and consolidate those responsibilities.

Cincinnati could save $5,479,991 if all six of these recommendations are enacted.
City Council is known for threatening to layoff police officers and firefighters any time there is a budget crunch or if one of their pet projects is threatened. The issue was debated by candidates for city council last year and council even considered a proposal to merge the city’s police force with the county Sheriff’s Office.

The median salary of a Cincinnati police officer is $48,799. By my math, that means 112 police officers could be kept on the streets. Remember this the next time you hear Cincinnati’s politicians threatening to cut police protection.

More importantly, shouldn’t the citizens of Cincinnati be given the most efficient and cost-effective government? City council ought to be better stewards of city’s treasury, but even if they do make the suggested cuts, it is likely that they would take that money and waste it on the street car project.

In the end, this is about good government. The City of Cincinnati must make hard decisions regarding their priorities in the face of a massive hole in the budget and tax increases have already been rejected by voters time and again. Voters should ask their representatives why they would not support these recommendations when the savings in tax dollars numbers in the millions.

Enacting these six recommendations would be a small step in the right direction, but there is much more work to be done in fixing the city’s budget woes.

NOTE: This piece originally appeared on Ohio Watchdog for about an hour before higher-ups spiked it because they thought it was "pro union." I contend that, as Ben Franklin once famously said, "that a penny saved is a penny earned" and that government integrity and the public good are served by doing the right thing regardless of whether or not it fits in to someone's political agenda or not.