3 key ways municipalities can stretch their budgets and save.
Budgeting needs can vary from municipality to municipality, but across the country, municipal leaders understand how critical creating a budget can be. The budget preparation process is difficult but important. It can ensure that your city runs smoothly and that your community is properly taken care of. For all of these reasons, budgets should be carefully thought out.
The National Advisory Council of State and Local Budgeting recommends that municipal budgeting include a long-term perspective, establishes links to broad organizational goals, focuses on results and outcomes, involves effective stakeholder communication and incentivizes government management and employees. In addition to these key areas of focus, there are a few ways that your municipality can help stretch its budget further. We’ve highlighted our top three here:
1 – REDUCE YOUR USE
Cutting down on your energy and water use is a great way to save costs. You can start this process by evaluating and better understanding your current usage patterns. If prices seem to have gone up in recent years and you cannot discern a clear reason why, consider having an energy audit performed. This guidance, though costly up front, can save you lots of money in the end.
After determining a plan of action and noting where you can best measure saving benchmarks, etc., measure your progress. Have you accomplished the goals you set? These goals might include:
- Leaving fewer lights on at night
- Swapping to all-LED lighting (this can even include new adaptive LED traffic lights)
- Ensuring that HVAC equipment is operating at its peak
- Maintaining motors, pumps and systems for optimal water system performance
- Checking doors and windows to seal air leaks
- Training your team to be mindful of conserving energy and water
- Considering the adoption of sensors that help to turn off lights when there’s no movement in the room
- Unplugging items that are not in use, from coffee pots to printers, even when they are not used, they still drain electricity.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which is a completely free resource that helps you to measure the water use, energy use and emissions at your buildings. It can help you to prioritize goals and create the game plan that is right for your municipality.
2 – PROACTIVELY PREPARE
Use preventative maintenance to avoid costly property repairs. There are lots of things you can do both inside and outside of your municipal buildings to ensure that things are running efficiently. Preventative property maintenance helps avoid costly damage and repairs. Just like you would do with your home, consider taking a close look at these areas of your municipal properties:
- Vents and filters – make sure that vents and filters are regularly cleaned and free of dust and debris.
- Water-based appliances and sewer systems – professionals recommend draining water heaters once per year and pumping septic tanks every 3-5 years to avoid system backups.
- Alarms – avoid fire or burglary claims and shrink your insurance premiums by showing that you proactively check your alarms and security systems on a regular basis.
- Refrigerator coils – appliances with dirty coils work a lot harder than they need to. Save energy by unplugging the fridge, unsnapping the grill, and then wiping down the coils inside every 3-6 months.
- Outside gutters – clear gutters of leaves to allow water to flow smoothly through them, helping keep mold and rot away from your building’s exterior.
- Carpets – bringing in a professional carpet cleaner annually can be well worth the cost and prevent mold and mildew growth.
- Trees – as trees grow each year, trim branches to keep them away from buildings and areas where people frequently work outside.
3 – PARTNER TO PURCHASE
Share services and costs with other municipalities and consider cooperative purchasing for large grounds needs. Tight budgets are difficult to work within, but participating in cooperative buying can help to stretch them that much further. If you have big needs, like ground maintenance vehicles, you can pool together with buyers from other municipalities to share the purchase (and the cost.)
This type of practice is commonly conducted by school districts as well as states, cities and counties. The Municipal outlines cooperative buying and details it further, as well as listing some of the groups that government agencies can be a part of. If you have big purchases looming in your future, consider investigating this practice further to see if it might be right for you.
If you’re working on creating your line-item budget for 2020, adopt a few of these steps as well. Set priorities and performance targets, and monitor budgeting implementation throughout the year. By doing these things, you should be able to stretch your budget just a bit further, and to save your municipality money in the long run.
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Lindsey Elias, Marketing
As our Marketing Content Manager, Lindsey is passionate about producing quality content. When not at the office or planning her next Disney getaway, she loves hanging with her husband, family and fur babies and indulging in the two c's: carbs & coffee.
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