Blue ribbon commission puts focus on postage

A county custodian was promoted to storeroom clerk.
WARREN -- A commission that developed improvements to the way Trumbull County purchases janitorial supplies has set its sights on reducing postage costs.
The so-called blue ribbon commission, which comprises two former industry executives, is investigating if the county could cut its $500,000 annual postage budget by centralizing mail metering and sorting.
"It has been recommended before," said Ralph Smith, a committee member. "The problem was it never had enough department heads behind it at one time."
The idea has the potential to save money because the post office discounts mail by volume, Smith added. But it may be a difficult sale to officials whose legal responsibilities include promptly sending tax bills, court papers and other notices.
Supporting the idea
"I'm in favor of it," said David Hines, the county auditor. Several years ago, Pitney Bowes, the mailing equipment vendor, did a study that showed the county could save thousands of dollars by creating a central mail system, he said.
"I think there is a lot of money to be saved," said county Commissioner James G. Tsagaris. "I always thought it would be the best to have it come from one department, but other departments didn't want to do it that way."
In the past, discussions about centralizing mail handling have snagged on the needs of the clerk of courts, who has one of the departments that sends the most mail, said Commissioner Michael O'Brien. State law requires the clerk of courts to send some mail by regular service, not pre-sort, he said. Other mail from the clerk of courts must be sent certified, he said.
He said it is too early to say if these difficulties can be overcome. The blue ribbon commission is not expected to issue a recommendation on ways to address mail and printing costs for several weeks.
Acted on suggestion
Commissioners acted Wednesday on the commission's recommendation to put a single person in charge of receiving and dispensing janitorial supplies.
By a 2-1 vote, commissioners hired Frank Allen of Warren to serve as the storeroom clerk at $9.75 an hour. For the past year, he has worked as a full-time maintenance department custodian.
In the new position, Allen will work half-time as storeroom clerk for the purchasing department, and continue working half-time as a custodian for Tony Delmont, maintenance department director.
Delmont said he thought the Allen's entire workday would soon be taken over by purchasing department responsibilities. Delmont was one of Allen's references when he initially applied to work for the county.
Tsagaris, who voted against Allen's appointment, said he did not think the former CSC Ltd. employee had enough experience managing inventory.
Within the last few weeks, county commissioners have constructed security fencing around supply shelves, and are in the process of shopping for cameras and a keypad entry system to protect the area.

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