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State Employees Come Up With Unique Ways To Save Money

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RALEIGH — The state has big money problems. With a shortfall of about $850 million, what's been saved so far is small potatoes, but $822,892 is a good start, considering where the state found the savings.

For a start, many state offices are taking bulbs out of fixtures to cut down on utility bills. Gwynn Swinson, Secretary for the Department of Administration, says they are going much further.

"Our utility bills are quite high in the state complex, and as a result, we determined that we would turn the lights out in the vending machines," she said.

Turning the lights off in vending machines saved $1,400 from February to May. Minor damage to state cars will not be fixed unless there is a danger to drivers.

"We will probably not take care of that immediately, and so far since February, we have realized over $20,000 in savings as a result," she said.

More than 800 suggestions from state employees are making a dent in the shortfall.

The State Capitol Police will replace cars with bicycles when possible, which should save $150 a month. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources saved $900 by recycling toner cartridges. Even using computerized letterhead generated internally on state employees' office computers saves $313.

"What we're doing is conducting business in a different way, and we're finding that we're realizing significant savings as a result of doing so," Swinson said.

Reducing phone charges and eliminating lines have also resulted in a savings of almost $53,000. State officials will have a better idea next month about how much has been saved as more departments and agencies report.


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