EDITORIAL: All ideas, big and small, welcome for improving government services

Saratoga Springs City Hall is seen here.

Saratoga Springs City Hall is seen here.

When people are talking about ways governments can save the taxpayers money or operate more efficiently and effectively, it’s actions like these that often slip under the radar.

They’re often small changes, born of someone recognizing a problem and thinking outside the box to propose a solution.

But coming up with the idea is only the first part of the equation.

Someone in government has to be willing to listen to the idea, research its feasibility, propose the solution to others, and convince fellow government board members to support it.

Not all of these ideas are going to be make a significant difference on their own.

But added up over time, these kinds of decisions can have a big long-term impact on taxpayers and the public served by government boards.

So what are we talking about?

Earlier this month, the Saratoga Springs City Council helped solve a problem the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority was having in keeping public sidewalks owned by the authority clear of snow and ice during the winter.

The issue, according to the council resolution, was that the Housing Authority couldn’t find salt suppliers willing to sell to the authority in the relatively small quantities its needs to salt the public sidewalks in its purview.

The solution: The city – which of course purchases tons of salt from a supplier – will sell salt from its own salt pile to the Housing Authority at cost.

This will ensure that authority has a ready and ample supply of salt to clear the sidewalks, and isn’t forced to pay exorbitant prices for what it’s able to purchase.

Taxpayers in the city absorb no additional costs. But they also don’t make any money from the sale of the salt. But the taxpayers benefit because the Housing Authority’s sidewalks get cleared.

Simple and effective.

The Housing Authority was having a similar problem securing gasoline from suppliers for the small number of vehicles it operates.

So again, the city agreed to sell the authority some of its surplus from city gas pumps, again at cost to the Housing Authority, to ensure it can keep its vehicles running.

Who benefits from these little arrangements? Everyone in the city. Who loses? No one.

Had the Housing Authority not been able to purchase sidewalk salt, it might not have been able to maintain its sidewalks or would have had to pay a premium for the salt – taking away money from services it provides.

Same thing with the gasoline and its vehicles.

These are the kinds of win-win situations can arise from people identifying problems and government being open to creative solutions.

Every little bit makes a difference.

More governments should be thinking this way and exploring the same kinds of solutions.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion, Opinion

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