County department focuses on cost-cutting measures

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - One Hamilton County department says they are constantly working to find new and more efficient ways to operate under tighter budgets.

The Hamilton County Engineering Department is funded outside of the county's general fund through sources including license fees and the gas tax.

"It's extremely important for the public to know what's going on here and I honestly believe we've got a real good operation," said Chief Deputy Ted Hubbard, county engineer.

Hubbard has been working at the county's engineering office for decades, and says efficiency and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars has always been a top priority.

"What you have to do is you always have to look at what you're doing and look for ways to make it better," Hubbard said.

One way the department saves money is by how they execute responses to winter weather road issues.

"We try to stretch our salt supplies by [reducing] the amount of salt we put down per lane per mile," Hubbard explained. "We have to do that, we used to put down more. But we also mix it with sand so it can go further."

With all of the road miles logged every year, Hubbard says fleet maintenance remains key.

"We need to get as much service out of [the trucks] as we can but as we go through attrition, as we replace these trucks, we are going with the  larger trucks," Hubbard explained.

Those newer, larger trucks mean fewer are needed to carry the same loads.

"It's a dual axel truck," Hubbard said of the newer model. "You can see the two axels and it has a lot larger load carrying capacity so it makes it possible for us to cut down the number of snow routes we have."

Since the late 1970's he says the engineering department has gone from 350 employees down to just 139, partially due to privatization.

"Emergency services have got to be available on demand," Hubbard said. "But the planned services, we believe that they can be privatized and we've done that."

He says all of the cost-saving measures combined have taken decades to implement.

"If you tried to do it over a short period of time I'd be virtually impossible."

At the same time, however, he says that because the department is already very lean in its operations, it makes it even more difficult to make further cuts when required by lagging revenues.

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