December 2008 Transporter highlights
Gov. Otter orders additional 3 percent holdback
Directs state agencies to hold 2 percent more in reserve
Continuing economic uncertainty and a further decline in tax collections prompted Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to order an additional 3 -percent state budget holdback today. He directed state agencies to further reduce their spending in light of forecasts showing the 1-percent holdback that he ordered in September still would leave this year’s revenue significantly short of what was projected last winter.
“This is precisely why I asked state agencies in September to hold an additional 11⁄2 percent of their appropriated General Fund budgets in reserve – on top of the 1-percent holdback. And it’s why I now am directing them once again to hold 2 percent of their General Fund budgets in reserve on top of the additional 3-percent holdback I’m ordering today,” Governor Otter said.
“These are difficult decisions made in consultation with legislative leaders and based on the best economic information available at this point in time. None of us know with certainty where the bottom of this downturn will be. But we have a responsibility to act prudently with taxpayers’ dollars, and a constitutional requirement to balance the state budget. This is a necessary step.”
ITD announces $9 million in budget adjustment
ITD is cutting its budget by $9 million and reducing administrative costs an additional $1.6 million by transferring 18 administrative positions to such critical services as bridge inspection, snowplowing, and road and bridge maintenance.
Declining revenue from the state’s fuel tax and economic slowdown is forcing the department to reduce its budgeted state funds by 5 percent from the $190.6 million approved by the Legislature in March to $181.6 million. Last year the department reduced its budget by $10.4 million.
“The $9 million in holdbacks reflect Governor Otter’s direction to all state agencies to act prudently and cautiously with the taxpayer’s’ dollars,” said ITD Director Pam Lowe. “Despite cutting more than $19 million from our budget over the last two years, we are maintaining the important services we provide Idahoans.”
In the past two years, the department made reductions in personnel costs, its office and equipment building program, the state construction program, out-of-state travel, and the new and replacement equipment budget, as well as delaying expansion of its salt brine program.
ASCE peer review identifies ITD strengths, opportunities for improvement
A team of engineers from business and government, assembled from throughout the country, recently completed a thorough review of ITD’s Division of Highways, its organization, function and support systems.
The American Society of Civil Engineers peer review team found ITD employees are committed to their profession and service mission and are dedicated to improvement. “ITD employees take a lot of pride in their work and strive for quality work products,” according to the team’s final report.
“The peer review is very enlightening and includes a non-biased, professional assessment of our strengths and weaknesses,” said ITD Director Pam Lowe. “ASCE identified a number of recommendations that will help us operate more efficiently and improve our service to Idahoans.
“The team’s report gives us a solid foundation upon which to build.”
ITD identifies more than 120 efficiencies, saves more than $18 million in savings in 2008
ITD implemented more than 120 efficiency measures, saving millions of dollars in 2008, according to a report issued by the agency this week.
The 2008 Idaho Transportation Department Efficiency Report outlines cost-cutting measures completed in 2008 and identifies future efforts.
"The report details how our employees are improving customer service, cutting red tape, solving problems and saving money," Pamela Lowe, director of the Idaho Transportation Department, said.
The largest savings came through the department's no-frills plan to meet the state's transportation needs while cutting costs. In 2008, more than $18 million was saved by using Practical Design to plan and build highway projects - $13 million more in savings than was projected. Engineers and planners now make project decisions on what is needed rather than applying generic standards across the board.
"It's like buying a car," Lowe said. "You might like leather seats, but cloth seats will do and save money. You can spend that money on something else."
District 1 inspectors to introduce GPS technology,
On-Site software in the field on Sand Creek Byway
One of the oldest highway construction projects on ITD’s design shelves will benefit from the newest in global positioning satellite technology when equipment starts rolling early next year.
The Sand Creek Byway, a new 2.1-mile segment of U.S. 95 that will remove through traffic from downtown Sandpoint, will be the first field test for the On-Site computer program.
On-Site is a component of a software suite from Bentley Corp. that ITD introduced in 2007 as part of a major CADD (computer assisted design and drafting) upgrade, explains project manager Ray Oldham. He said ITD will exchange underutilized parts of the Bentley suite for On-Site, which was not included in the initial software purchase.
He compares it with Microsoft’s Office suite that integrates stand-alone programs like Word or PowerPoint into a package that incorporates many common elements. On-Site will enable ITD to extend its application of Bentley’s suite to applications in the field.
On-Site uses electronic data from design and pushes it out into construction. It should result in more accurate construction and improve the inspection process, Oldham explains.
Why should we be prepared for emergencies?
Disasters can affect Idaho at any time of the year, swiftly and without warning.
Most people don't think of a disaster until it is too late; then they suddenly realize how unprepared they are for the massive changes it makes in their lives. Local officials can be overwhelmed and emergency response personnel may not be able to reach everyone who needs help immediately.
When a disaster or emergency strikes an ITD system, we are called upon to serve the people of Idaho. Knowing in advance that our families are prepared and have the necessities to withstand an emergency will help our employees do a better job at ITD.
To prepare ITD families for any type of disastrous event an Emergency Preparedness section has been placed on the ITD Intranet. To access this section go to the ITD Intranet and on the menu at the left choose Emergency Info. Click on the drop-down menu titled Emergency Preparedness. Here you will find ways to plan and prepare families for emergencies.