Friday, May 10, 2002

DeWine: Cut city employee travel

$881K saved would dent $27M deficit

By Gregory Korte,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Employees for the city of Cincinnati spent $881,668 on out-of-town travel last year — including many trips that were too far, unnecessary or redundant, Councilman Pat DeWine said Thursday.

        He proposed cutting the city's travel expenses by one-third as a way of narrowing the city's looming $27 million deficit.

        But unlike Mr. DeWine's previous cost-cutting suggestions, which included cuts to management overtime, cell phone use and employees taking cars home, this one may get resistance from the city administration.

        City Manager Valerie Lemmie said Thursday she had not seen Mr. DeWine's proposal, but said she was planning on increasing the travel budget.

        “The better trained people are, the better prepared they are to employ the best practices,” she said.

        If that's the case, said Mr. DeWine, Cincinnati's parking garages are some of the best-run in the country.

        The city's Parking Facilities Division spent $11,681 last year to send seven employees to conferences in Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego, Atlantic City, N.J., and Madison, Wis., he said.

        “Parking garages are revenue generators for us, and if we can find ways through training to make them more efficient, decrease maintenance costs and increase their use, that would be an appropriate use of training,” Ms. Lemmie said.

        Other travel Mr. DeWine identified as excessive:

        • Former City Manager John Shirey gave few public speeches, but he sent a spokeswoman to speech writers conference for $1,197 in Washington, D.C. She was reassigned four months later.

        • An employee of the Employment and Training Division spent almost six weeks on the road last year, at a cost to taxpayers of $10,016.

        • Many trips involved multiple employees. The Regional Computer Center, for example, sent eight employees to the same conference in San Diego in July. Cost to taxpayers: $14,832.

        Mr. DeWine's plan goes to council's Finance Committee Monday.


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