Two Alabama agencies have taken it upon themselves to slash government spending
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC), the body tasked with regulating the state’s utilities, and State Auditor Jim Zeigler are taking a hands-on approach to eliminating waste in government by trimming their own offices.
In 2014 alone the PSC cut 16 percent of its budget.
“The fundamental approach we have taken to cutting costs at the Public Service Commission is that all options are on the table,” PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh told Yellowhammer. “We have reduced our budget in nearly every area, including personnel, office space, equipment and travel. If reductions in any area allow us to save taxpayers money, and contribute more to the state’s general fund, then we will consider it.”
Cavanaugh slashed the travel budget, reducing the Commission’s out-of-state travel by 80 percent and in-state travel by 55 percent, reduced the number of personnel and state cars, and consolidated office space, signing a new lease that will reportedly save the state $420,000 per year beginning in 2015.
“Our goal at the PSC is to do our job, but to always remember we work for the people of Alabama and it is their money we are spending,” Cavanaugh said.
Zeigler, whose office has a much smaller budget to begin with, has spent his first few months in office cutting all the “fluff,” according to a letter Zeigler sent to the State’s Director of Finance.
“With the governor saying we are $260 million in the hole for the next fiscal year, the legislative leaders asked all agencies to identify areas to cut spending. Cuts should start at home, so I started with myself,” Mr. Zeigler said.
While the State Auditor is a constitutional officer elected by the entire state, it is a relatively small agency with a budget of around $1.2 million.
Zeigler, who has dubbed himself “The Waste Cutter,” found around 8% of his office’s budget — almost $200,000 — to cut for the 2016 fiscal year, which will begin in October of this year.
The auditor proposed delaying replacing state cars and computers, and declined to use the state’s car, computer, health insurance, and cell phone himself. He is also proposing to cut in-state travel, and completely eliminate out of state travel.
“Your auditor is a cheapskate,” Zeigler’s Facebook page proudly declared Friday morning.
The State Auditor is tasked by the Alabama Constitution to audit every state agency, board, and commission every two years for state property valued above $500. Mr. Zeigler said there is approximately $2 billion of state property, all paid for by Alabama taxpayers.
The Auditor’s office has 11 full-time employees, including Zeigler, and two part-time employees. Five of those employees travel the state full-time conducting audits.
“We are the best insurance policy the State has in keeping track of State assets,” Mr. Zeigler said.
Like this article? Hate it? Follow me and let me know how you feel on Twitter!
— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015