SPSA needs to cut more costs

Published 8:41 am Friday, January 23, 2009

Before saddling the region’s taxpayers with record-high garbage tipping fees, we hope that members of the Southeastern Public Service Authority board will put the agency’s staff back to work on some serious cost-cutting.

The 3 percent of expenses that SPSA officials say they have cut to date is grossly inadequate and disproportionate to a 37 percent drop in garbage tonnage that the agency has experienced and a whopping 135 percent increase in tipping fees that the SPSA board has proposed.

For an agency that’s in the business of disposing of garbage, less garbage to dump means a lighter workload. A lighter workload means that fewer people are needed to get the job done.

SPSA officials owe it to member localities and the citizens of those localities to present a detailed cost-cutting plan that includes a much leaner payroll.

We appreciate the apparent resolve of SPSA Executive Director and former Franklin City Manager Bucky Taylor, who says he told his department heads recently, “If it’s not a matter of life and death, you won’t spend the money.”

SPSA must move beyond generalities, though, and tell the citizens very specifically which expenses are being cut.

This is an agency with a long reputation for out-of-control spending and reckless fiscal mismanagement. Accordingly, its new generation of leadership, led by Taylor, must understand the skepticism of taxpayers about SPSA’s ability and willingness to cut expenses.

With a detailed plan to cut expenses far more than 3 percent, SPSA might be able to convince taxpayers to tolerate the outrageously high tipping fees that the agency says it must collect in order to survive.