Thursday, November 16, 2000
Kenton dispatch savings proposed
Merger among list of ideas
By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
INDEPENDENCE Kenton County could realize substantial savings if the county merges its emergency dispatch operations with Covington's and Erlanger's, a consultant says.
For further savings, the county also should make its golf courses private, as Cincinnati and Indianapolis have done, and look into lowering prices to increase the number of rounds played.
The county also should work with a developer to build homes around the Fox Run Golf Course to reduce that course's losses, the report said.
The study's author, Gerald Newfarmer, is a former Cincinnati city manager hired to study changes for operating efficiencies in government. The report, presented Tuesday night, had 48 recommendations, including these eight ways to save about $800,000 immediately:
Eliminate a part-time clerk's position in the finance department to save $15,000.
Bill the golf fund for services the county supplies it through its information technology department to save $30,000.
Reduce the county labor force handling fleet maintenance or put it to work for other jurisdictions. In 1999, the force had 6,214 unbilled labor hours, valued at $283,000.
Reduce the county fleet by 25 vehicles, saving $33,300 a year and avoiding $1,250,300 in replacement costs.
Have fleet maintenance charge for fuel delivery to other jurisdictions for a potential savings of $17,000.
Contract out the jail's food service for a possible savings of $60,000.
Reduce Justice Center security staff on the third shift from three to one, saving $116,000 a year.
Increase court fees to cover the full cost of county Justice Center security costs, saving $242,000.
Within a couple of weeks, Kenton Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd wants department heads to meet with Mr. Newfarmer to establish a timetable for putting the study's recommendations into effect.
We will be setting up an opportunity for Mr. Newfarmer to meet with department heads right after Thanksgiving, said Scott Kimmich, deputy judge-executive. On the short-term goals, I think we'll have a plan in place by early December. We're going to move as quickly as we can on this.
A more detailed study would be needed to determine actual savings, but Mr. Newfarmer estimated the annual operational savings from merging the emergency dispatch services alone would be at least $100,000.
For several years, Kenton County has held on-again, off-again talks with officials in Covington and Erlanger about merging the three dispatch centers. Talks bogged down when city officials noted their loss of local control and raised questions about possible effects on response times.
Kenton County Commissioner Barb Black said she hopes Mr. Newfarmer's report offers the three governments an incentive to resume merger talks, especially with the recent election of a new Covington mayor and two new city commissioners.
Even though all three of us have updated our equipment in the past few years, that still would have been needed, said Ms. Black. You can't expect to merge services and have one (dispatch center) really far behind the others.
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