PORTAGE | Just how much toilet paper does the city government of Portage use? Or copier paper? Or cleaning supplies?
Officials don't know. Each department, from police to fire to street to parks and City Hall order their own supplies.
Councilman John Cannon and Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham are looking into whether that should change. They are embarking on a study to determine whether the city should have a centralized purchasing procedure.
The study, due to be completed in February, was recently backed by the entire City Council.
"We want to see if it will be cost-effective to purchase out of one centralized location," Cannon said.
Cannon said he believes a centralized purchasing system would be more cost effective, lend to more accountability, provide a better record of items purchased and streamline the bill paying process through the clerk's office.
"It will look at ways of purchasing in bulk," said Stidham, adding his office and the administration will conduct the study.
Cannon said each department orders toilet paper. That toilet paper isn't necessarily coming from the same supplier. Nor is it necessarily the same quality or brand from department to department.
If the product was ordered from one supplier and was of equal quality across departments, it could save the city money and time and could better track if there was waste. The same would be true for other supplies that are used by multiple departments.
Cannon said they need to make a list of supplies common to all departments and begin pricing.
"When you buy multiple units from one place, the cost will go down," he said, adding each company he has worked for has had centralized purchasing as part of its business practices.
In addition, Cannon said bills coming from multiple suppliers into the clerk's office to be paid takes more time than one bill from a single supplier to process.
Cannon said the process will also allow the city to budget more accurately and easily for those common supplies once officials know just how much is used and at what price.
Cannon and Stidham said they will also approach Portage Township Schools and other local government agencies to see if there is any benefit to expand the centralized purchasing beyond just the city.