Erie County Executive Chris Collins has done a few things lately that I like.
First of all, he is adding something called “scrutiny” to requests for Erie County IDA tax breaks and incentives. Witness the example of Martin’s Fantasy Island. Not that I have anything against this family-friendly WNY institution, but does it really need an $87,000 tax break to help buy new rides that it’s already promoting?
Collins basically said, not if they’re not creating any jobs with the tax break, they don’t. And he’s right.
Secondly, Collins halted a decision that Giambra made to auction off older County office furniture and electronics and buy new stuff. Instead, Collins is going to keep the older stuff around and use that first, before buying anything new. Productivity might plummet if a county employee is forced to, e.g., use a computer with a pre-Pentium computer, but that’s not what’s at issue here. Fax machines, printers, phones, computers, monitors, and furniture can all be brought back into service if functioning.
He’s freezing spending on travel and office supplies; looking at staggering employees hours, so there’s no automatic overtime; and asking county employees to take county cars out of town, instead of putting in for mileage on their own vehicles.
Little things like this add up, and they represent a sea change in the way that the County looks at costs. These are simple, relatively non-controversial ways to save hundreds of thousands of our dollars. And we haven’t even implemented Six Sigma yet.