GUEST COMMENTARY: Calumet Twp. increased efficiency, cut costs

2014-03-18T00:00:00Z 2014-03-27T11:54:21Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Calumet Twp. increased efficiency, cut costsBy Mary Elgin nwitimes.com
March 18, 2014 12:00 am  • 

As our township continues working to achieve taxpayer savings by reducing the demand for township assistance, it is important that township stakeholders be accurately informed. This column is designed to correct inaccurate impressions recently propagated about Calumet Township.

Calumet Township residents will recall that before I became trustee, corruption ran rampant as key township administrators used federal grant money to pad their own incomes and Township Board members treated themselves to take-home cars and other perks.

Residents will also remember Calumet Township was reeling in patronage with more than 230 employees. Today, we are meeting measurable deliverables with fewer than 75 employees.

Moreover, taxpayers who appreciate decreased government spending will be pleased to learn I lowered the township’s tax levy by $4 million in 2012 and by $4 million in 2013. I am also lowering the levy by $6 million in 2014. This includes Gary, Griffith and other communities connected to the township.

Additionally, I eliminated the costs of maintaining a vast fleet of 46 vehicles and attendant gasoline costs. Before I became trustee, taxpayers were footing the bill for extreme excess.

Today, under my stewardship, Calumet Township owns less than 10 very used vehicles. This is hardly excess and is a vast departure from the wasteful policies of the era which preceded my tenure as trustee.

As trustee, I have been fiscally responsible and collaborative.

For example, I ended Calumet Township’s ambulance service and donated housing and ambulances to Gary’s Fire Department. I also donated cars to Gary’s Code Enforcement Department.

My administration also reduced costs by consolidating physical operations and reducing rental costs.

The truth is Calumet Township is performing extremely well in comparison to similar agencies.

However, an “apples to apples” comparison of Calumet Township can best be made with public agencies with similar demographics, statutory responsibilities, tax collection rates and circuit breaker impact. Comparisons between charities and other governmental agencies may not align perfectly and can be misleading.

For example, despite working to lower costs associated with servicing 100 to 150 people each business day, Calumet Township is required to meet legislatively imposed timelines.

Some of these protocols must be implemented within certain time parameters and also generate inherent costs. So, when making comparisons, these factors must be accounted for.

In conclusion, while we still have work to do to eliminate the need for poor relief, we are making measurable progress in Calumet Township!

Mary Elgin is Calumet Township trustee. The opinions are the writer's.

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