Employee ideas might lead to big savings in Bibb County

Cost-saving measures thought up by Bibb County employees could save the county several thousand dollars in next year’s budget.

Ideas ranged from ordering only inexpensive pens — a savings of at least $4 per pen — to eliminating the county Christmas party, which most employees did not attend, and giving employees gift certificates for turkeys instead — a savings of more than $14,000.

“I think what it does is sort of set in the minds of department heads and other employees that we are concerned about being as prudent as we can with the taxpayers’ dollars,” commission Chairman Sam Hart said.

The various savings will help commissioners as they begin to craft the fiscal 2010 budget. The county’s annual budget retreat is scheduled for May 8, and not long after various departments and agencies will come before the commission pleading their cases for funding.

Revenue probably will be down, and departments and agencies will be expected to rein in their expenses, commissioners have said.

Commissioners discussed the employees’ ideas at a recent retreat. Other savings they agreed to include:

Ÿ keeping replacement windshield wipers handy, rather than paying $40 each time they’re changed;

Ÿ extending periodic maintenance on vehicles from 4,000 to 5,000 miles;

Ÿ discontinuing the Christmas reception where commissioners and department heads mingle with other local leaders, for a savings of about $5,000;

Ÿ examining whether newspaper and magazine subscriptions are necessary to the departments receiving them; and

Ÿ buying used furniture and refurbished cars when possible.

Commissioners also agreed to look into eliminating the clothing allowance for nonuniformed employees in the sheriff’s office, Civil Court and the coroner’s office.

A contingency fund could be created to pay those employees for clothing damaged on the job, Commissioner Bert Bivins said.

Recently, the commission approved a new purchasing policy for business cards. If employees want business cards beyond the standard white with black lettering, they’ll have to pay the difference. The same goes for other pricier office supplies.

“If they want a $5 pen, they can just go get them one,” Bivins said.

Commissioners plan to recognize employees who made cost-saving suggestions.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.