Simple, yet Welcome

22 Jan

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.

Advertisements

9 Responses to “Simple, yet Welcome”

  1. hank kaczmarek January 22, 2008 at 10:24 pm #

    Some small moves, but they are indeed movements. And movement in a direction not taken by the county of Erie in quite a spell.

    I was in the 1st run of the Fantasy Island Train on opening day of the park. Didn’t start school until after that summer was over. They were making a movie to publicize the place. It is indeed an institution, but after being around for 45 odd years I don’t see it going out of business without an 87K tax break from the County.

    The computer I use at work is three months old. The one I use at home I bought in 2002. I did upgrade the box with a CD burner, but other than replacing a burnt hard drive for 95.00 and adding some memory, I can get along with it for a few more years before I get a new unit. I also have a printer/scanner fax that’s 4 years old and gets plenty of use. They can get along with what they have for awhile—so some county employee can’t download a web page at ass blinding speed.

    A hopeful sign of change. He can’t change Albany, but he can do what he can to relieve the tax burden on the citizens, and it appears he’s looking to try.

  2. Joel January 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    I do applaud the sense of fiscal responsibility on Collins’ behalf, but (and I expect to be pilloried on this point) from a behavioral standpoint, if someone is expected to use older/subpar office equipments (e.g. stained, broken, chipped) even if it is still technically serviceable, the performance you can expect from the average worker in the environment reflects that same subpar atmosphere. Similarly, a person entering that environment will perceive it to be subpar, thus perpetuating a spiral of I am not cared about/why should I care about this client/this place does not care about what I think about this splace. A vicious circle. Respect bespects respect, and I remind those wielding the Accountant’s Razor to think more critically about where the cut is placed and how much muscle is lost in the process. I’ve seen this in a financial serices private sector setting, so I can only imagine what it would be like in the public sector. The money spent on the veneer can pay dividends later on.

  3. Joel January 22, 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    I do applaud the sense of fiscal responsibility on Collins’ behalf, but (and I expect to be pilloried on this point) from a behavioral standpoint, if someone is expected to use older/subpar office equipments (e.g. stained, broken, chipped) even if it is still technically serviceable, the performance you can expect from the average worker in the environment reflects that same subpar atmosphere. Similarly, a person entering that environment will perceive it to be subpar, thus perpetuating a spiral of “I am not cared about/why should I care about this client/this place does not care about what I think about this place”. A vicious circle. Respect begets respect, and I remind those wielding the Accountant’s Razor to think more critically about where the cut is placed and how much muscle is lost in the process. I’ve seen this in a financial services, private sector setting, so I can only imagine what it would be like in the public sector. The money spent on the veneer can pay dividends later on.

  4. Mike Walsh January 22, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    I can’t speak for the last five years but all through the nineties and up to 2003 my company did a lot of work for the county. They didn’t buy too much new equipment and had service contracts on the old stuff. Keep in mind that this is all bidded out and they get a rock bottom price on everything. I declined to bid after 03 because everyone had lowballed bids and the older equipment was such a pain to maintain that their was no profitability in it.

    Now, I’m sure certain departments with some influence may have been able to circumvent this and get whatever they wanted. Maybe that’s what Collins is targeting, and good for him. In general, though, rank and file employees are not sitting behind the latest and greatest high speed gaming computers to process invoices.

    Now software, especially customized, may be a different story.

  5. Becky January 23, 2008 at 3:44 am #

    Rank and file employees can’t generate purchase orders to pad their existence either. They use whatever someone else has deemed necessary.

    Service contracts – a main reason for updating perhaps?

    Gorski started the surplus office auctions, I believe. Every unused item, large and small, was dragged out of offices and sold, some of which was close to qualifying for the Antique Roadshow. They don’t make equipment like they used to.

    The fountain at the Botanical Gardens was dredged for the change people threw in there, and deposited. Now that’s penny-pinching.

  6. Russell January 23, 2008 at 8:10 am #

    See what a difference it made actually waiting for the guy to get into office and take some action.

  7. MIke January 23, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    Not giving a tax break to fantasy Island is like stealing candy from a baby. Hank, Crystal beach closed I bet you didnt see that one coming either. As long as Collins is fair across the board(not picking and choosing who he gives the breaks..ie AES). Lets see if he takes this hard line with that welfare queen ralph wilson, that will be the real test.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy | Artvoice Daily - October 17, 2012

    […] people. He even hired someone at over $100,000 to determine how to use county space. But he was doing good, simple things, too. Things that didn’t need million-dollar consultants.  However, in looking back on his first 100 days, there was a lot of stuff I liked.By July 2008, […]

  2. Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy | Buffalopundit - December 2, 2014

    […] people. He even hired someone at over $100,000 to determine how to use county space. But he was doing good, simple things, too. Things that didn’t need million-dollar consultants.  However, in looking back on his first 100 days, there was a lot of stuff I […]

Contribute To The Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: