Agency heads and elected officials alike will be bidding jointly for supplies to save money.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- In the past four months, Trumbull County has trimmed about $200,000 off annual expenses for such items as toilet paper, trash pickup and soap, by becoming more organized in the way it buys them.
When Anthony Carson Jr. was hired in May as the county's first purchasing director, each county-owned building had a separate contract with BFI for garbage removal. No one compared natural gas plans or the price of floor wax.
And the heads of several dozen departments and agencies each bid out or negotiated their own contracts for everything from uniforms to copy paper.
More cost cuts: An additional $100,000 will be saved at the end of the month, when bids are open for a contract to supply office supplies, Carson predicted at a county commissioner's meeting this week. For the first time, the county is offering all its business to one supplier and using the whole of its spending power to leverage a good deal. The county has a $36 million annual budget.
"I've had 20 or 25 vendors per week who are calling to participate," Carson said. He would be shocked, he said, if the contract for copy paper and office supplies didn't come in about 30 percent less than the $350,000 to $400,000 the county now spends.
Carson said it took four months to get the 43 agency heads, elected officials and judges to sign onto the county purchasing plan.
The officials will still determine their own needs for supplies but now will buy them from suppliers who offered the lowest quotes to the county, Carson said.
There is still more money to be saved. By offering a single contract for floor mats and putting it out for a formal bid, for example, Carson expects the $40,000 annual bill could be cut in half. A single plan for cellular phones and copiers will also cut expenses, he said.
Spreading idea: The county commissioners, pleased with the results of the program so far, are considering inviting school board and other governmental agencies to join in once it is established, said county Commissioner Michael O'Brien.
The county didn't consolidate purchasing earlier because for the past eight years, attention has been focused on building improvements, he said.
"Now we are going at it aggressively," he said.