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Union Co. government starts fiscal year with emphasis on long-term savings

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UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -

The Union County Board of Commissioners said they will start the new fiscal year with eyes on cost savings.

As they worked through the budget process for fiscal year 2014, there was an increased emphasis on long-term savings. With some unforeseen costs to absorb and more on the horizon, the Commissioners knew some long-term changes needed to be made.

"With a huge insurance trust payment coming due, rising jail expenses and an unexpected issue with some past bonds, the situation was clearly critical," explained County Administrator Kelly Carter. "While over the longer term growing our population and business base is the fix, for the time being we've got some mistakes from the past to rectify and some current realities to face."

With that in mind, they've tasked Carter and Chief Information Officer Rollie Hawk with overseeing the streamlining of county operations and spending.

"We started moving towards centralizing and cost savings in the areas of information technology and communications when they appointed me as CIO in July," Hawk said. "In the new budget, we've officially created a communications department and have centralized a significant chunk of our spending that area."

"But the more we looked around, the more we realized that same approach needs to be more universal," Carter added. "Paper, office supplies, publishing fees and other expenses are exaggerated when they are spread out among multiple departments. No business would have every office in a single building buying everything individually so why should we keep doing that?"

Vendor agreements are another area where cost savings are certain to be found. Since becoming CIO, Hawk has already seen improvements and expects even more with Carter.

"Our relationships with vendors have already changed considerably. When they find out they are dealing with a CIO like me or an executive like Kelly, it's a different ballgame," Hawk contended.

"For one thing, we're getting away from these multi-year contracts that have been signed in the past," recommended Carter. "Every vendor would like to secure a multi-year deal and proposes such in the name of discounts or cost containment but long-term contracts saddle the office with an obligation that may exceed the elected official's term. Instead, we want single-year contracts wherever possible with vendors competing with their best offer, year after year. That's a big key to keeping costs low and making sure public money is being spent wisely."

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