TECHNOLOGY TASK FORCE REPORTS TO COMMISSION
(Lawrenceville, Ga., May 20, 2011) – Gwinnett County officials on Tuesday received the final report from a task force set up last fall to explore how technology improvements can create efficiencies, increase productivity, expand partnerships, and/or create costs savings in the local government. The Excellence Through Innovation (ETI) project is a follow-up effort to the Engage Gwinnett citizens committee that reported its findings on County operations and budget issues a year ago. The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored the Engage Gwinnett initiative as well as the ETI task force and also served in a support role for the task force’s work.
After reviewing technology related suggestions from Engage Gwinnett and the County’s information technology strategic plan, the task force divided itself into two committees. One studied new technologies and opportunities while the other focused on budget and efficiency.
The group said the County’s IT department is “well-managed and accountable for results,” but still made a number of recommendations for improvements, noting “the work of this taskforce was to look at taking our county government to a higher level of excellence.” The recommendations ranged from implementing a better system for managing capital projects to continuing to consolidate information technology personnel functions from all county government agencies. The committee recommended two immediate action items: report quarterly ontechnology improvementsand create a standing technology committee.
The 15-member volunteer task force met bi-monthly over seven months starting last October. Bill McCargo of the Atlanta Education Fund, who also served as co-leader of Engage Gwinnett, served as ETI co-chair along with Sean Murphy of Canvas Systems.
Group members included technology experts from local businesses including NCR, AT&T, Cisco, Sage Software and Canvas Systems. Key County government officials and representatives of stakeholders such as the Gwinnett Board of Education and Gwinnett Medical Center also served on the committee.
The County’s Chief Information Officer and Director of IT Services John Matelski said, “We greatly appreciate the willingness of the local business community to help us find the best opportunities for using technology to make government more efficient.”
The full report is available here.
GWINNETT STILL CUTTING COSTS
(Lawrenceville, Ga., May 17, 2011) – The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners took further steps Tuesday to reduce spending and increase the budget stabilization reserve. Cost cutting has become second nature under continuing negative economic pressures. Gwinnett County started this year planning to use $20.8 million from fund balance (also known as reserve funds), not including an $18 million difference between expenses and revenues. Commissioners resolved the $18 million gap in March and now have eliminated about three-fourths of the planned spending from fund balance.
In April, the Board approved reductions of about $1.5 million and now they’ve found almost half a million more. The changes include using part-time deputy sheriffs for courtroom security, cutting money from the General Fund for transit operations and eliminating one job in Water Resources.
These moves reduce total 2011 appropriations by $530,999.
Commissioners also amended the long-term Capital Improvement Plan to eliminate a planned $15 million building/acquisition project and instead put most of the savings into the County’s budget stabilization reserve. About $384,000 will be used to restore a previous cut to GRN Community Service Board to help with ongoing building rental costs for the mental health and substance abuse agency.
CFO Aaron Bovos recently reported projections showing the County’s reserve funds could fall below the desired two-month reserve in 2013 and would be gone by 2015 without actions like these. The biggest variable is how much revenues will fall due to property tax appeals. Preliminary results of the appeals will be available next month. The Board plans to approve the tax digest in July and set the millage rate in August, pending the ability to process appeals in that time. This schedule may vary depending on the volume of appeals that are received.
Chairman Charlotte Nash thanked the financial staff for their monthly budget analysis and continuing suggestions on how to cut costs or boost revenues in the face of anticipated revenue shortfalls for the next few years. She also acknowledged the many ideas from the Engage Gwinnett citizens committee that reported its findings a year ago. She said the County has taken action on 65 of the proposals and is still studying 40 more.