Expense Reduction

It doesn’t depend on the size of your organization, or a non-profit versus profit company, or a local government or agency, we understand your need to lower overhead costs. Segal Revenue & Expense Specialists offers our knowledge, experience and advice to reduce overall expenses. Even the most cost-conscious managers are surprised when we find money in the following places:

  • Banking services
  • Chemicals
  • Copying services
  • Credit card/Merchant discounts
  • Electricity
  • Gas or diesel fuels
  • Jail expenses
  • Natural gas
  • Solid waste expenses
  • Telecommunication expenses
  • Utility billing efficiencies
  • Wireless services
Four Strategies to Reduce Jail Costs
Robert Segal

A significant expense of local jails or detention centers is the cost of feeding the inmates. Three… Read More

E-rate and The Survey Method and Potential Legal Issues
Robert Segal

See the attached document that talks about the FCC subpoena places that have used the survey method.… Read More

Is Cramming Costing You Money?
Robert Segal

Phone bill cramming is like packing on extra pounds. We eat a little too much, we forget to exercise… Read More

Are You Ready for “No Lead Ahead?"
Robert Segal

Lead poisoning costs the United States $50.9 billion every year in health care costs, and about one… Read More

Is Your Library System Due Additional Funds?
Robert Segal

“The richest person in the world – in fact all the riches in the world – couldn’t provide you with a… Read More

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Four Strategies to Reduce Jail Costs

Robert Segal,

4-Strategies-Reduce-Jail-CostsA significant expense of local jails or detention centers is the cost of feeding the inmates. Three meals a day, as required by state statutes, can become very expensive. I have often heard a sheriff or jail administrator say that a hungry inmate is an unhappy inmate who causes trouble. For this reason, some jails make sure their inmates are exceptionally well fed to keep them happy and avoid the trouble they can cause. But at the same time, the jail wants to ensure that they are not overpaying for the food served to inmates.

Each state has established certain nutritional guidelines that every jail is required to follow. These guidelines include a certain number of dairy products, bread products, proteins, and portion sizes. Typically, the meal plans must be reviewed by a registered and licensed dietitian who certifies that the menu complies with the nutritional standards that have been established by the state.

Strategy #1.

Most of the jails we’ve visited serve half-pint cartons of milk (like the ones we drank in elementary school). The jail may house 300 inmates who are served one half-pint carton twice a day. The jail may purchase 600 half-pints of milk per day, but because it is such a small quantity, they do not always get a competitive price for that milk. Typically they’re the only department that buys milk.

However, down the street is a local school that is also required to serve milk at least twice a day to all of the students. Typically the school district purchases much more milk then the jail and, therefore, has a much lower unit cost per half-pint of milk. Every time we have compared the milk price, we have found that the school district price is usually 20-30% cheaper than the jail price, and frequently, both are buying milk from the same vendor.

It seems that when the sheriff or jail administrator calls the milk vendor and says he would like to piggyback the school district pricing, the vendor has agreed to the lower price.

Strategy #2.

In many states, jails are allowed to purchase and serve day-old bread. Think about it: how often do you get fresh bread for your own home. If you’re lucky, your bread is fresh on the day you buy it. The rest of the loaf is a day old or older when you eventually eat it.

It’s like having bread from the thrift store delivered directly to the jail. Bread companies love to get rid of large quantities of day-old bread on a regular basis. They are more than happy to deliver day-old bread to a local jail on a consistent and regular basis.  Frequently we have seen a 30-40% savings and a few times a 50% savings between the price of day-old bread and fresh bread.

Strategy #3.

The absence of portion control may contribute to the happy inmate concept.  Could the kitchen staff be providing larger portions than required by state statute or required by the certified menu?

Most serving utensils, such as a slotted spoon or ladle, are made to specific sizes such as 4 or 8 ounces, and a serving size is frequently 4 or 8 ounces. So when you see the kitchen staff serving heaping spoonfuls of corn that should be four-ounce portions according to the certified menu, but in reality are 6-8 ounces, it easily increases your food costs. Think about it: If your heaping spoonful becomes six ounces instead of four, your costs increase, or perhaps the heaping serving becomes an eight-ounce portion—then your costs double.

Does the kitchen staff need a reminder that portions are to be maintained at the required level as called for in the certified menu?

Most of you would agree that the jail would prefer to have savings on the cost of food and to use the savings for other expenses (or to better compensate the staff).

Strategy #4.

Jails or detention centers use large quantities of hot water for cooking, bathing, and cleaning.

Have the officials of these centers (jails) explored the possibility of installing solar voltaic panels to pre-heat the water and reduce the cost of heating water?  We know of detention centers that have a company, which can use federal and state tax credits, to install the solar panels, and then receive their compensation based on the savings from not purchasing electricity, natural gas, or propane. The detention center has nothing invested, and the solar company assumes all of the risk. This is a true win-win situation.

See www.flsenergy.com for case studies.

Have you used the ideas in this blog to help reduce your jail food costs? We would love to hear about it and invite you to comment (below) with your stories involving the use of our suggested expense reduction techniques.

E-rate and The Survey Method and Potential Legal Issues

Robert Segal,

Is Cramming Costing You Money?

Robert Segal,

Phone bill cramming is like packing on extra pounds. We eat a little too much, we forget to exercise. We indulge in a few too many cocktails and skip a few too many push-ups and crunches. We gain a pound here, a pound there, without noticing. Until, wow, we’ve gained 25 pounds and our pants don’t fit! Cramming works because we don’t notice it. We pay more and more, packing on those “pounds” or charges. Consumers are not the only ones affected by cramming: it can cost local governments millions. How does cramming work, and how can consumers and governments protect themselves?

Are You Ready for “No Lead Ahead?”

Robert Segal,

Lead poisoning costs the United States $50.9 billion every year in health care costs, and about one in every 38 children is considered to have experienced lead poisoning or is at high risk. In an effort to protect the public, the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) was amended in 2011. Public Law 111-380 redefined the parameters of “lead-free” for “pipe, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures” of potable water and requires all 50 states to comply by January 4, 2014. For residents, this means safer water. For cities, it could mean a looming logistical problem.

Is Your Library System Due Additional Funds?

Robert Segal,

“The richest person in the world – in fact all the riches in the world – couldn’t provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.” Malcolm Forbes

The old image of cranky librarians shushing kids couldn’t be further from the truth. Libraries are not tomblike buildings full of dusty books; they are dynamic community centers full of programming, knowledgeable staff, information, technology, and entertainment. But as use and expectations of libraries is increasing, funding for these fantastic institutions is decreasing. There may be funding available so your library system can continue its good work.

How Efficient Are Your Processes?

Robert Segal,

In his book, Extreme Government Makeover: Increasing Our Capacity to Do More Good, Ken Miller posits that the government needs an Extreme Makeover, like the rundown, dilapidated houses that are transformed into the nicest homes on the block on the ABC show.  “The house of government doesn’t need new paint on the shutters or a new doorbell. Our problems are way bigger than that.” Far from anti-government, Miller’s book is supportive of its work and its people.  It’s the processes that are the problem.  With over 16 years of experience with local government, we wholeheartedly agree.

Vendors Leases May Be Costing You Big Money

Robert Segal,

An office-quality copy machine can cost upwards of $12,000. But that’s just the beginning: add the paper, toner, and maintenance. Add the service charges for repairs. Add 5% on top of all that, just because. It is expensive to buy these things but it can be more costly to lease them from vendors. At a time when local governments are strapped for cash, what is the best choice?

On the surface, leasing can seem like a good idea, especially when service and maintenance are included in the deal. But here’s something you may not realize: when you lease a machine from a leasing company, that company has to borrow money to purchase the equipment that they’re leasing to you. The cost of borrowing for commercial vendors is always higher than it would be for a local government because municipalities and counties do not have to pay taxes.

Credit Cards May Be Quick and Simple, But Costing You Extra Money

Robert Segal,

When you ask, “Paper or plastic?” today, you’re not talking about grocery sacks. You’re talking about checks vs. credit cards. Many local governments take credit cards now to allow their residents to pay utility bills; some take them for property taxes, parks and recreation fees, and a variety of other places. Credit card companies don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts; they charge a 2 to 4 percent fee per transaction. Doesn’t sound like much until you start multiplying!

We got a call from small town in North Carolina, and the manager said, “We are getting hit with about $2,000 a month in merchant fees. We’ve got the large utility customers coming in with their bills and making payments. I know who’s doing it; he wants the points for his free trips!” The town’s not getting in on any of these trips, that’s for sure.

Interest Rates Got You Down? Quick Trick to Increase Your ROI

Robert Segal,

Let your money work for you. If you put $1 million in the bank at age 40, earning you a nice 0.05 percent annually, you can retire with a $2 million when you are 2040 years old. Sounds good. Hope you like working! When cities and counties have a fund balance, which is, essentially, surplus cash, they put it at the local bank or a state-approved investment vehicle. These funds are currently paying about 0.05 percent; that’s not pathetic. That’s worse than pathetic. Is there anything local governments can do to make their cash work harder for them?

Historically, interest rates have been about 5 percent – 100 times higher than they are now. You might retire before you’re 1000 at that rate. But 0.05 percent basically means your money is sitting in that bank, doing nothing. There is a way that you can make it do more. It won’t be turning cartwheels and doing jumping jacks, but at least it will be doing something. CDARS, or the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, is a government-approved program that allows investors (in this case, local governments) to earn more favorable rates.

Are You Optimising Your Consolidated Purchasing Power?

Robert Segal,

Say you have a cell phone and pay about $90 per month, and your spouse or child gets a phone under the same account. The bill doesn’t double. You might pay $130 for both phones. This is a small-scale version of consolidated purchasing power. In theory, the more you purchase from one vendor, the better the price.  When magnified to a local government level, it can give cities and counties another tool in the cost-cutting battle. It’s really more like a super power.

What is the most heavily frequented spot in city and county government offices? Wherever they keep the coffee. The second most frequented spot is usually the copy machine. Copying services, including the cost of owning or leasing the copier, service contracts and labor, toner, and drums, can take a big bite out of budgets.  This is a prime candidate for using your consolidated purchasing power.