City Hall could save as much as $7 million a year while improving services in multiple departments if a series of recommendations outlined by an efficiency expert are implemented.
Last September, the Metro Council approved the Broome administration’s $300,000 request to retain Cincinnati-based Management Partners Inc. to study how to make Baton Rouge government more efficient.
In the months since, the firm’s consultants have been digging deep into City Hall systems and processes, and have identified several ways local government could save money within just the first year. Among them:
• The city has a fleet of 3,500 police and public works vehicles, of which 210 sit unused because they’re old, extra or simply unneeded. Selling the surplus would generate an estimated $1.1 million one-time windfall and save $600,000 a year in maintenance and insurance costs. Savings would also come from implementing better fleet maintenance practices. The industry standard ratio of preventative maintenance of a fleet to unscheduled repairs should be roughly 75%-25%. Baton Rouge is exactly the opposite.
• The city spends $76.4 million annually on employee healthcare costs, more than peer cities their size. Hiring a benefits consultant to negotiate a better, more cost-effective plan and an eligibility consultant to identify those who are not eligible for the plan—an employee’s spouse, say, who gets benefits elsewhere—could save as much as $4 million a year.
• The city charges far less than peer cities for plan review and permitting services. Fees should be increased—while services are improved—which could generate as much as $1.2 million a year.
“I’d say it’s an easy $7 million in savings—ballpark estimate,” says Management Partners President Jerry Newfarmer. “The changes required to implement it have been identified can be done and should be done.”
While the study has identified significant opportunities for savings, the real focus of the efforts has been to find ways of making city government more efficient, effective, and user friendly—“faster, better smarter,” he says.
Newfarmer’s team has identified several ways this could be accomplished and have already started working with City Hall administrators, doing hours-long training sessions and going over implementation plans with specific action items that have been drafted for each department.
“We’ll finish our final report in September or October,” Newfarmer says. “But we’ve been making recommendations as we go and they’re already working on action plans. The key to our approach is implementation. That’s what we do. This won’t be a study that sits on a shelf.”
Read more about the Management Partners study in Daily Report PM.