Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Covington advisers find ways to save

Scheper group estimates $5M

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A management study more than a year in the making will offer 90 specific recommendations that could save the city more than $5 million a year, its author said Monday.

        Since September 1998, a volunteer commission headed by insurance executive Chuck Scheper has been given access to every department in Covington City Hall, looking for ways the city could operate more efficiently. Its findings will be released today.

        “It's something that'll be a backdrop and a blueprint for the city's future,” Covington City Manager Greg Jarvis said of the Scheper Commission's report. “My biggest hope was to go in with a completely clean slate and say, "From a business perspective, what are the best long-term goals for the city?'”

        The examination was similar to the work done by the Phillips Commission, which studied Cincinnati government operations more than a decade ago.

        “We will have a follow-up committee that will meet with the city periodically to check the progress of implementation,” said Mr. Scheper, the group president of American Annuity Group Inc., a subsidiary of Great American Insurance Co. of Cincinnati. “I don't want this to be a report that just sets on somebody's desk.”

        Mr. Scheper said 25 volunteers from the Greater Cincinnati business community spent more than 500 hours scrutinizing every aspect of Covington operations.

        The longtime Covington resident said the volunteers on the Scheper Commission “were given complete access” to city departments and operations, with no restrictions imposed.

        “It's really looking at all of the city operations to see if there are different ways of doing things,” Mr. Scheper said. “We were studying the efficiency of city services and looking at whether services could be delivered in a more effective way.”

        Mr. Scheper said the report recommends a number of cost-cutting measures.

        Covington Commissioner J.T. Spence said he hopes to use the report to develop a focus for city departments, and determine where resources should be directed.

        He added he sees the report as a starting point for city staff, residents and others to discuss goals and objectives for city operations.

        “Before, our efforts at strategic planning have been internally generated,” Mr. Spence said. “This is the first external review of the city by people that we actually asked to do it. Because of that, maybe it has an opportunity to create a framework for discussion that'll help us to direct our goals and objectives.”


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