With tax revenues on the decline, it's more important than ever for governments to trim expenses where they can.
Perkins Township recently found a way to save nearly $17,000 just by creating a document that outlines all of its drug-free workplace policies. If the Bureau of Workers Compensation approves it, the township will get a 15-percent discount on its workers compensation insurance.
Another way the township could save money is by placing tighter restrictions on which employees get cell phone allowances, trustee Jeff Ferrell said.
Procedures for cell phones, inventory, travel and other items of everyday business are up for review as township officials seek to bring all departments into line and cut costs where possible.
Bill Hodges, assistant fire chief, said updating the drug-free workplace policies involved consolidating procedures already outlined in the township's three union contracts, plus enhancing drug abuse awareness training.
"We've spelled out what needs to be done by the township for the employees so everyone knows what's going on," he said.
Ferrell said there were minor differences in procedure between departments -- for example, whether random drug testing should take place at the beginning of or during a shift. It will now take place at the beginning.
Next up for the committee working on a "policy and procedure manual" is cell phones -- who gets them, how they're used and so forth, Ferrell said.
A previous board of trustees allowed department heads to decide who should receive a cell phone and the $45 monthly allowance that goes along with it. That has become expensive, Ferrell said.
"That's what we're trying to eliminate," he said. "Right now we don't feel that it should be that broad."
Restricting the availability of cell phones could be difficult because employees sign on for 24 months, Ferrell said. In addition, policy changes must be approved by the unions.
The work to standardize and codify the township's procedures is a long process, but trustee chairman Bill Dwelle said it will help Perkins run more smoothly.
"It just lays all these things out so you avoid future problems down the road," he said.
Discrepancies and gaps have caused problems, particularly concerning inventory, trustee Tim Coleman said. These include how to enter new purchases, how to do updates and what to record when the township disposes of an item.
A lack of clear inventory policies was a factor in a dispute between Dwelle and former police Chief Tim McClung, Coleman said.