Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peoria County Owned Laptops

A proposal came out of Management Services last week to purchase up to $28,000 of personal laptop computers for board members. The idea was to save money and trees. Fortunately for the taxpayers Republicans Elsasser, Trumpe and Widmer plus Democrats Watkins, Hidden, Salzer and Hester voted the purchase down.

Would there have been a savings? No, board members would be allowed to keep them at home, use them personally (what would stop them?) and bring them to meetings. Extensive, on-going training costs were not taken into consideration nor was the fact that the supposedly $9,000 a year in paper, mailing, etc., savings would be offset by possible theft of these laptops with confidential information, early obsolesce of laptops meaning new replacements, service costs, and errors made by inexperienced and experience operators. At least 5 board members are not computer literate.

The horseshoe around which 18 board members sit was not designed to hold all the paperwork we receive and still have space for a computer. Plus the horseshoe is desk height, not computer keyboard height that would make use awkward. Volumes of paper would still need to be printed out for the public, the news media and for those who would not use these laptops.

A couple of years ago IT installed a new Board voting system. The system is much slower than the system used by the city and is awkward to use, often failing to react to input causing the clerk on almost every issue to be asking for someone to try to vote again.

The County sometimes makes up to four mailing a week. It has been suggested several times over the years that mail be accumulated and mailed less frequently. Also, those of us who have computers at home receive agendas by email now.

Let those who want to own their own computers buy them, don't dump another cost on the taxpayer. If the County and City too, want to save money then the 6 who made the all day trip to Chicago a couple weeks ago to talk to an "expert" (Indianapolis, a much large population than Peoria County) on uni-gov could have invited him to Peoria to address a joint meeting of City Councilpeople and County Board members. Then we would ALL hear the pros and cons, at this time far more cons if you examine how few have been successful, none in Illinois I'm aware of.

Sure, the mayor and the city would like to combine services. Suddenly urgent now. The City with their extremely generous pensions, are in far DIRE shape, as Mayor Ardis said, than the County.

I remind people that the City Council was unanimous in there opposition to combining the two separate election commissions and combining emergency services???? Lots of talk and discussion, very little action.

Another way for the County to save money is to stop the yearly hiring of a consultant friend of our administrator to come down from Chicago or up from Florida to put on all day sessions; this year at Wildlife Prairie, a session that had only 11 of 18 board members attending with 2 leaving before the session was over. Cost? Our administrator doesn't know but since the cost was in the $9,000 range several years ago, I suggest the total will be in the $13-15,000 range.

Our administrator is capable of handling most of the sessions where we bring in outside consultants. Also, at least 2 trips consisting of 3 days where made by select County individuals to Washington, D.C. already this year asking for subsidies, grants, earmarks for "priorities" like the riverfront Museum.

There are a lot of ways to make County Government less costly to taxpayers. But it is very little of their money they spend, so.....

But it is yours and if you don't mind spending it, then complete the $7-14 million needed to start build a museum, fund the missing $2.5 million for the Childrens Playhouse, the $5 million, maybe more, to complete the new zoo, etc.

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