MDC belt tightening to include facility and services reductions
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Cost cuts include closing 13 field offices and reducing hours at nature centers.
JEFFERSON CITY - As part of the Missouri Department of Conservation's recently announced efforts to cut costs by an estimated $7.5 million annually, the MDC will close or end its lease agreements for 13 office facilities throughout the state by July 2011. The Department will also reduce hours of operation at some other facilities over the next year.
The office facilities slated for closure by July 1, 2011 are:
· Liberty Field Office in Clay County
· Brookfield Maintenance Shop in Linn County
· Sullivan Public Contact Office in Franklin County
· Ironton Field Office in Iron County
· Van Buren Field Office in Carter County
· Marble Hill Field Office in Bollinger County
· Fredericktown Field Office in Madison County
· Farmington Field Office in St. Francois County
· Branson Field Office in Taney County
· Little Dixie Conservation Area Field Office in Callaway County
· MDC Field Office in the University of Missouri Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in Howard County
· Long Branch Field Office in Macon County
· Hartell Conservation Area Field Office in Clinton County
"The majority of these locations have six or fewer employees, and most of the staff spend the majority of their time out in the field," explained Department Director John Hoskins. "It just makes sense to have them work from other MDC facilities in the region or even from home. In other locations, it simply will save in the long run to house staff elsewhere."
In addition to reducing facilities, the Department will reduce hours of operation at six of its seven nature and education centers from as many as seven days per week to five days per week.
"By reducing the number of days of operation, we can achieve considerable savings in utility and staffing costs," explained Hoskins.
He added that specific changes will be determined over the next year. "We will continue to work with staff to carefully determine how we can best balance our need to reduce expenses with our commitment to provide quality conservation services to the people of Missouri."
Hoskins explained that the Department's need to cut costs is both a reaction to the economic downturn and also part of its long-term goal of better balancing staffing costs with other expenses.
"Simply put, less revenue means we need to reduce expenses and staffing levels, which means we must adjust the number of facilities we have and the levels of services we can provide," explained Hoskins. "We have to live within our means just like our fellow Missourians."
Conservation Commission approves new MDC staffing plan to reduce costs
Friday, September 18, 2009
Plan focuses on maintaining a sound financial position by reducing expenses through adjusted staffing and service levels.
JEFFERSON CITY-The Missouri Conservation Commission has approved a staffing plan that significantly reduces expenses for the Conservation Department.
The Commission announced the plan at its meeting Sept. 18 in Hillsboro. The plan focuses on reducing personnel costs compared to other expenses. Conservation Department Director John Hoskins said the plan will help keep the agency on a sound financial footing.
"Like most other agencies and organizations, we are feeling the impacts from this ongoing economic downturn," said Hoskins. "This plan will help ensure our sound financial position during this continuing period of lagging revenues and well into the future."
The Department's two largest revenue sources, the conservation sales tax and permit revenues, have not kept pace with inflation. From 2000 through mid-2009, both permit revenues and conservation sales tax revenue increased less than inflation by double digits.
Revenue from the Department's one-eighth of 1-percent conservation sales tax was $6.4 million lower in Fiscal Year 2009 than the previous year. The decline came on the heels of a $400,000 shrinkage of sales-tax revenues in FY 2008. The new staffing plan is expected to produce annual savings of approximately $7.5 million.
"The fiscal year 2009 decrease was the largest one-year decline in conservation-sales-tax history," Hoskins said. "It also is the first time that conservation-sales-tax revenues have decreased two years in a row."
While revenue reductions have hurt the Conservation Department's recent bottom line, Hoskins said the new staffing plan is not solely a reaction to the economic downturn. It is consistent with the long-term goal of better balancing staffing costs with spending on facilities and services.
"Employee salaries and benefits are most organizations' biggest expenses," said Hoskins. "The staffing plan approved by the Conservation Commission ensures adequate funds allowing continued service to the people of Missouri through delivery of solid conservation services."
The majority of the expense reductions will be achieved by keeping vacant positions unfilled. The Department has been holding 39 full-time positions vacant since early this year. It anticipates another 134 vacancies in full-time positions, largely through retirements, over the next 20 months. The total of 173 vacant positions represents 10.7 percent of the Department's staff.
Hoskins noted that staff and expense reductions will impact some Conservation Department facilities and services. He said the Department is still determining specific changes.
"We have to live within our means just like our fellow Missourians and will continue to deliver our core conservation services," said Hoskins. "That is what we are doing. Thanks to Missouri voters' foresight in providing the conservation sales tax, we still have enough resources to do our job."
The Conservation Department's budget represents less than 1 percent of the State of Missouri's total annual budget.