Round Rock is a fast-growth community, and has been for decades. To keep pace, we regularly need to beef up spending for core services such as public safety, parks and transportation. But we’re not building a Dagwood, mindlessly adding extra layers of cold cuts and cheese slices … just because. Before we add new positions we evaluate whether we are utilizing current resources efficiently.
For an appetizer, we’ll cover the staff additions in fiscal 2018 budget proposal. For the main course, below, we’ll share ways we’ve cut calories by working with what’s already in the cupboard.
For starters, the budget proposal contains 35 new full-time employees (FTEs), broken down below by fund type.
Thirteen are for public safety (Police and Fire); three for General Services (building and grounds maintenance); four for Parks and Recreation; five for Planning and Development Services; and four for Transportation. Note: Ten of the new Fire staff and one Parks staff are to operate projects voted for in the 2013 bond election. The General Fund is fed by sales taxes, property taxes and some fees.
Four for maintenance and inspections; and a quarter FTE to cover additional hours for a part-time customer service representative. Utility Fund revenue comes from water and wastewater customers.
Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund
Two total, a marketing and advertising coordinator, and an operations and events assistant coordinator. HOT tax revenue comes from folks staying in Round Rock hotels and motels.
Now for the meat of this post. Here’s the sampler platter of ways the City has kept a close eye on its fiscal waistline in recent years.
Rethinking service strategies
- Construction of two Fire stations to replace Station No. 4
- We took the two companies (three firefighters apiece per shift, 12 total) from the old Station 4, and put one company at each new station. That addressed our response time needs in the east part of town without adding new staff. That results in a savings of $1.6 million per year
- Repurposed a single-family home to use as Fire Station No. 9, saving the cost of demolishing the existing structure and building a new station. The renovation cost $250,000. Building a new station would have cost more than $4 million
- Contract right of way maintenance (mostly mowing of medians and the like) instead of having Transportation and Parks and Recreation staff do the work. That reduces the need for additional FTEs and equipment, and offers more flexibility for economic and weather changes
Repurposing of existing staff, positions
- Repurpose of Database Administrator position in Information Technology to meet a greater need in General Services for a Superintendent for Building Construction
- Due to the decline in Municipal Court workload, we transferred two positions to other divisions or departments, and shifted another position to Police records support
- Finance and IT are refining processes and utilizing cloud-based services and other innovations to eliminate need for new staffing as other departments grow. We’ve added no new IT staff in five-plus years. A half of a Finance FTE moved to Planning and Development Services. And the efficiencies gained by automatic meter reading implementation means we were able to freeze 1 current meter technician in fiscal 2017
- In Transportation, we repurposed four FTEs for growth and project needs
Redefining support services
- Consolidation of citywide inspections function in Planning to increase efficiencies
- We deferred the purchase of a $1.3 million Fire apparatus into FY 17 to allow replacement of overdue Police vehicles without adding to budget
- By switching to a new model for Police vehicles, we’re saving $5,600 per vehicle, with $240,000 saved to date
- Shift to standard designs for new Fire stations — $94,000 savings realized to date
- In-house expertise and planning for facility projects has reduced architect fees by approximately 2 percent — $710,000 saved to date
Re-evaluate funding sources — grants, outside funding and volunteers
- The Library‘s effective use of volunteers offset staffing costs by $125,000 per year
- Of the $110 million spent on roads in past five years, $36 million came from other agencies. More tasty details here
Restructuring administrative focus
- Implemented a more robust investment management program to improve interest earnings without increasing risk. We estimate annual interest return improved by $125,000 per year
- Consistently look for ways to reduce debt expenses. In FY 17, we refunded Type B sales tax backed bonds to realize $90,000 in annual interest savings. In FY 16 we completed four bond refinancings resulting in $927,000 in annual interest savings
In the next Budget Bite, we’ll dish on the key ingredient to our recipe for success — the Strategic Plan.