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Letter to the Editor: Cutting County Costs Leads to Leaner, Smarter Gov't

Send your letters to james.kleimann@patch.com.

To The Editor,

Too often, we, the hardworking taxpayers of Bergen County, have witnessed the abuses of government — double-dipping of public pensions, inflated salaries prior to retirements to boost pensions, cost over runs on projects, costly lawsuits on differences that should simply be settled by negotiations, unlimited overtime… The list goes on and on…

We have all read the headlines and news stories of these abuses of the public trust. Day after day we watch with disgust as our tax dollars are wasted as we look to our elected officials to properly act on our behalf.

Last year as a candidate for Bergen County Clerk, I raised one such issue of wasted tax dollars — the inflated cost of election printing by the Bergen County Clerk’s office. I made a commitment that I would put a more competitive process in place and reduce the cost of election printing by $200,000.

Upon assuming office in late November, I worked with my new leadership team to identify printers who specialize in, and have the ability to perform, election printing. We then conducted site visits and individual interviews of these companies and their operations.

I am pleased to announce for the 2012 budget, I recently notified the Bergen County Freeholders that I am able to keep my commitment by cutting $200,000 from the printing line item of the elections budget. It should be noted that this is being accomplishment despite the new challenge of being mandated to print the election materials in three languages. In addition to this being the busiest of election years with the choosing of a President and Vice President, a U.S. Senator and Congressman, 54 school districts chose to have their school elections switched to November. 

Further, upon assuming office, I learned that my predecessor had submitted a preliminary 2012 budget with a 6.56 percent increase and the County Executive’s subsequently approved an increase of 4.33 percent. 

Times are tough and this was just not acceptable to me. Working with my leadership team, we were able to save taxpayers an additional $60,700 by eliminating an outside vendor and joining with the county in disaster recovery at a savings of $16,500; updating the website in-house at a savings of $4,200; and $40,000 by partnering with the county in using one server. In addition, we reduced administrative payroll by 16 percent and instituted cross training of employees to improve efficiencies and successfully operate with the lowest staffing levels ever in the Bergen County Clerk’s Office.

These efforts resulted in a zero percent increase in the Bergen County Clerk’s 2012 budget!

This is part of my commitment to restore people’s trust in government by keeping our word and ultimately ending up with a leaner, smarter, and more open government that puts people first.

One person, one public pay check; control of public salaries and overtime; real project oversight; negotiate instead of litigate… Not just catchy phrases but real reforms that will restore the trust in our elected officials. I ask my colleagues in government to join me in rising to the challenge.

John S. Hogan
Bergen County Clerk

Have a question or a news tip? Email the editor James Kleimann at james.kleimann@patch.com. Or, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your email inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Melvin Freedenberg May 19, 2012 at 01:10 PM
We have to start somewhere. You must have a lot of municipal employees and vendors hating you. Keep up the good work. The more they hate you the better the job you must be doing. We look forward to a follow up.
fred holden May 24, 2012 at 06:08 PM
First, I request we just skip the nasty ("hate you") comment and stick to the facts and issues, please. Sure, "governing" can be more cost effective at all levels, but remember that these municipal employees are mostly just working people on the front lines performing invaluable services for us. Please do not lump the "gaming the system players" (who are often the higher paid politically appointed insiders in "administrative" positions) with those simply doing their necessary jobs. These employees deserve reasonable compensation and recognition for their service. Secondly, to James: Shouldn't "Letters To the Editor," be from the general "citizen" population, rather than from political leaders? They already have other avenues of news access to promote themselves.

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