With projected state revenue falling well below legislators’ proposed spending plans, public-sector watchdogs are on the prowl for government waste.
But they won’t find much bloat inside three state operations, according to a taxpayers’ advocacy group.
The Nevada Taxpayers Association handed out its Cashman Good Government Awards in Carson City Wednesday night, and finalists included a division at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; the city of Las Vegas; and an employee in the state Health Division.
The business and finance unit inside the facilities management department at UNLV ranked as the overall winner of the effective-government honor. The operation instituted new maintenance techniques and installed energy-efficient equipment and lights. It also launched a recycling program that generates money, which it then reinvests to reduce reliance on state funds.
Despite a growing staff and larger buildings, the agency has maintained a constant rate of energy consumption since 2001. The savings: $11 million.
The city of Las Vegas grabbed a spot as a finalist for its “Celebrate” program, a plan designed to make the municipality’s operations more efficient.
Why does it work? Start with its budget. It doesn’t have one, because city officials didn’t want to cut the program in hard times. Celebrate is instead a grass-roots effort consisting of volunteer committees in 13 departments contributing ideas for leaner operations. It’s saved $200,000 a year, the taxpayers’ association said.
The taxpayers’ group also spotlighted Christine Wood, a health program specialist inside the Nevada Health Division in Carson City. The association lauded Wood for drawing enough grant dollars to develop a “nationally recognized” oral-health program for Nevada kids who might otherwise go without routine mouth care. Wood’s program is a model for other, similar grants given through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The taxpayers’ association evaluates Cashman Award finalists and winners based on the level of innovation or effort invested in running programs efficiently. Applicants should show tangible results, typically in dollars saved.
The award is named after late Las Vegas businessman James Cashman III. Cashman’s brother, Southern Nevada Harley-Davidison owner Tim Cashman, established the honor.