I would like to boldly state up front that there is no magic trick to slashing the town Highway budget. Many built-in costs are fixed and cannot be radically upheaved; for anyone to claim otherwise would be simply wrong or have a poor understanding of the contracts, laws and policies that dictate operation of the department. However, there are several smaller, incremental measures that can be taken to produce a cumulative effect on savings. With a budget so large, small modifications multiplied across will have noticeable results.
- I will forego the roughly $7,000 per year Animal Control stipend that the Superintendent of Highways is permitted to receive. The duties of this position are fully covered by other employees and the additional stipend is not necessary. All money saved will be returned to the General Fund.
- I will forego the provision of a town vehicle and fuel. It is well within range of acceptable for me to use my own personal vehicle and fuel for duties related to my employment. Any money saved, or earned from auction of the current vehicle, will be returned to the General Fund.
- I will systematically review and renegotiate (or locate new vendors for) all purchase orders for which savings can be found. I have direct experience doing this work within my own businesses and it’s something I can confidently and enthusiastically take on.
- I will be more efficient with work orders. For instance, it is more beneficial to task a group of employees with one, well-defined task versus spreading them thin and overwhelmed amongst several simultaneously competing tasks. Starting and completely finishing one task at a time will limit confusion and frustration while increasing teamwork and project efficiency.
- I will ensure that all town equipment is being utilized. The Highway Department possesses pieces of equipment that are not used, despite their inherent value to our work. Using our equipment to its fullest potential, and properly training our employees in its operation, will produce faster work and result in numerous opportunities to save. For example, we have a specific attachment that can be affixed to high lifts to grind deteriorated road pavement down before it is filled. The attachment is never used due to workers’ unfamiliarity with its functioning. Instead, we use a less effective technique which is to repeatedly cold or hot patch. Patching improperly wears away faster – creating the need for repetitious work – and because it is not done flush to the ground, results in more damage to our plows in the winter.
- My thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of the current CSEA contract, which governs employment of the departments I would oversee, will enable me to effectively adhere to the town’s agreement with its workers. Proper adherence will result in intentional and more effective employee scheduling as well as limited costly grievances.
- I will be mindful about the use of overtime. Overtime is necessary in a department that must respond to issues 24/7/365; however, it can be used with forethought. For example, overtime is needed every year to meet the demands of fall leaf collection. The leaves must be collected to protect sewer system function and road integrity. Generally, overtime for leaf collection is done on Saturdays and fall-time holiday days. However, what is more advantageous and cost-saving is to stagger that overtime and have it spread out over two to three elongated workdays; instead of getting out at 3:30 pm, workers get out at 5:30 or 6:00 pm. The reason is two-fold: 1) The equipment is already gassed up and ready to go and the workers are already in place. 2) This type of overtime qualifies as a “continuation of work,” per the contract. That means that the workers already on the job get to stay, instead of having to call out a larger number of workers and in order of seniority (and pay) as would need to happen if done on a Saturday or holiday day