Council plans efficiency study
By Terry Oparka
Posted September 29, 2010
Report will analyze effects of police cuts
TROY — The Troy City Council took the first step to ask a neutral third party to review city departments for efficiency, the effects of future staff reductions, and how employee wages and benefits stack up against employees of other municipalities.
By consensus, the council asked Troy City Manager John Szerlag and City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm to prepare a contract to authorize the International City Management Association to evaluate the way the city currently delivers services.
The report will also present alternative ways, including further outsourcing, in which to deliver those services. The council decided to move forward on the matter at a study session held after the Sept. 20 City Council meeting.
ICMA is a professional and educational association for appointed local government administrators.
The cost for the review is estimated between $196,660 and $211,360.
“We believe that if we follow the recommendations of the ICMA, it will result in cost savings greater than the initial outlay,” Szerlag said.
Delivering services based on rising property taxes is a “broken” system, Szerlag said.
“I’ve only managed three cities,” he said, adding that it’s good to have both in-house experts and independent consultants with more global experience, including consultants with experience in more than 30 cities, looking at ways the city could continue to cut costs and deliver services most efficiently.
Funding for the restructuring study would come from either the city’s general fund balance or from a transfer from the capital fund to the general fund. Szerlag told the council that it was possible because recent capital projects have or will come in under budget.
City staff will also explore funding from two other sources: drug forfeiture money from the Police Department and the Michigan Municipal League’s Shared Public Services Initiative.
The ICMA report would review police and fire operations, the city manager’s office, the finance and technology departments, human resources and purchasing operations, the city clerk’s office, the treasurer’s office, the assessor’s department, the city attorney’s office and maintenance functions.
For example, the ICMA study would document current police patrol performance and workload levels, establish a range of performance levels and objectives for the department, identify opportunities to improve efficiency with existing resources, and estimate manpower requirements and associated costs needed to achieve specified performance objectives.
Leonard Matarese, director of public safety services for the ICMA, said the data compiled would be analyzed for the outcome of planned police cuts and the effect they would have on services.
According to the city’s three-year budget, four police positions are slated to be cut July 1, 2011, 18 in 2012-2013 and 15 in 2013-2014. In addition, 10 positions were cut this year through attrition.
“We will look at every department from the same perspective,” he said. “Everything is on the table.”
“It’s important for us to have the data,” Mayor Louise Schilling said.
Matarese said that the ICMA would likely look at the Troy study as a model project to help other cities.
If the council approves the proposal that is scheduled to be on the Oct. 4 meeting agenda, the ICMA should complete the review by the end of February.
About the author
Staff Writer Terry Oparka covers Troy and the Troy School District for the Troy Times. Oparka has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2000 and attended Oakland University and Macomb Community College. Oparka has won an award from the Michigan Press Association and four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter.
More from C & G Newspapers
Ferndale / Berkley