County seeks ways to save money

Published 12:01 am Monday, June 18, 2012

NATCHEZ — Whether it’s washing dirty mopheads or making sure medicine cabinets are stocked themselves, Adams County’s government is looking for new ways to save money.

“We are looking at every way in the world to cut money,” Supervisor Mike Lazarus said.

“If you look at it, the costs are increasing on everything, and the county — in the five years since I have been elected — has raised millage only one time, but since then we have lowered it more than that.”

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Saving money meant making some changes, and doing some things in-house that had previously been contracted out.

The county has had a uniform, rug service and janitorial supply contract for 15 years, a contract County Administrator Joe Murray said the county janitorial staff said they would be able to maintain themselves. The rugs were provided as part of the contract, and were changed out when they needed cleaning.

“(The contract company) would take our broom and mop heads and wash them and return them and our rags,” Murray said. “I checked with the maintenance people to see if there was any reason why we couldn’t provide our own rugs, if it would be too much of a burden on them to clean them, and they said it wouldn’t. If (the rugs) get real dirty you can take them and have them blown off with a pressure washer and brought back in.”

As for cleaning the dirty mopheads and janitorial rags, Murray said the Adams County Sheriff’s Office bought a new washing machine through a grant earlier this year, and the county now uses the old one for washing the dirty mopheads.

Buying new rugs initially cost $4,200, and $6,000 had to be spent to buy new uniforms for the road department, but Murray said eliminating the contract could save the county between $17,000 and $18,000 annually.

Other supplies were evaluated, prioritized and then cut from the budget. One expense that didn’t make the cut was air fresheners.

“Nobody seemed to like those, so we took those out,” Murray said.

Likewise, the county had an $1,800 annual contract with a company to keep the various first aid kits in county buildings stocked, but Murray said county employees can do the same thing cheaper.

Other costs, Murray said, were almost completely unnecessary — for example, the $500 the county spent every year on the glossy, federally mandated employment security commission posters that have to be posted in employee break rooms.

“I found out you can download all the posters from the employment security commission for free and make them any size you want,” Murray said.

Then there were also the costs that could be observed through better policy. The board of supervisors adopted a county cell phone policy earlier this year that made departments prioritize which employees were able to use a county-owned cell phone.

“We had a data card and six phones that were turned in due to the cell phone policy,” Murray said. “Six phones for a year, that’s a chunk of change.”

And they’re looking at other cost-saving measures as well.

Murray said if he can get a vendor to provide off-road diesel for the equipment the county doesn’t use on the highway rather than using a fuelman card at a gas station, he will.

“I think if we do that we can save $1,000 a month,” Murray said. “When you’re looking at a $1,000 a month saving, you do it, even if it means less convenience.”

“When you see glaring savings, you have got to do something about that.”