Local governments attempt to find cost savingsAcross the nation, local governments are dealing with budget shortages and are attempting to cut costs everywhere they can. As budgets continue to fall and expenses keep rising, many towns and cities are implementing new spend management techniques to ensure their money is used in the most efficient way possible.

Unexpected places to save
Local governments of all sizes are beginning to think outside the box to stretch their budgets and still provide citizens with the services they require. Some of the seemingly small steps that are being taken have the potential to save government funds.

The Associated Press reported that in Nassau County, unused telephone lines may be amounting for a significant amount of waste. Up to 3,000 unused lines may be cut off by the end of the year, which could save more than $535,000 annually. Los Angeles County is currently undergoing a similar plan to cut waste from phone lines that aren't active.

Such waste isn't exclusive to phone lines. The source revealed that a school district in Idaho determined that it could save more than $300,000 over three years by turning off unused computer monitors. District officials installed software to turn off monitors after they've remained unused for five minutes, and the computers go into standby mode after 90 minutes. They automatically turn off at night, and won't restart until users power them up in the morning.

Consolidating services
While local governments typically handle their own services, it may make more sense for some local bodies to combine their spending on certain functions. Governing reported that Kansas City, Kansas, combined some services with Wyandotte County, and saw a huge improvement in service quality. The consolidation also resulted in reduced spending and even lower taxes.

Michigan Live recently reported that both residents and government officials in the Kent County area support measures to combine certain purchases and services to cut down on expenses. Surveys conducted by Grand Valley State University's Community Research Institute revealed that two-thirds of residents want increased cooperation between local governments to provide necessary services, and 80 percent of elected officials support such an initiative. The source revealed that several local communities are currently in the process of determining if it will be cost-effective to consolidate local police and fire departments.

While these services may result in cost reduction, not all local governments are joining forces to combine their purchasing and services. The GVSU surveys revealed that some fear local services will lose effectiveness, and the consolidated services will not be worth the cost savings in the end.
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