County to invest in spending analysis

ELIZABETHTOWN - With thoughts of a possible 30 percent tax increase for next year's budget, Essex County leaders are hoping a new expense will lead to greater cost savings in the future.

Members of the Essex County Finance Committee unanimously approved a resolution Sept. 20, that would allow county manager Dan Palmer to allot up to $10,000 to contract with Aeon Nexus, a consulting firm that provides an assessment of spending practices.

According to Palmer, the firm will use its complex software and expertise to analyze thousands of invoices from the past year, comparing county expenditures for various goods and services to the prices of similar products offered both regionally and nationwide. Their results will allow county officials to find out if they've been spending foolishly and where.

"There's probably things out there we're spending more on than we're supposed to be," said Palmer.

Moriah supervisor and committee chairman Tom Scozzafava lauded the plan, noting how he was skeptical at first, but found consultants like Aeon Nexus are widely used in both the private and public sectors.

"I think the $10,000 cost would come back 20- or 30-fold when we're all done with this," Scozzafava said.

Jay supervisor and board chair Randy Douglas said he too wondered at first why this analysis couldn't be done in-house, but agreed hiring the consulting firm will be an effective way to explore cost savings.

As Westport supervisor Dan Connell pointed out, one of the main issues county leaders anticipate is getting department managers to welcome the critique of Aeon Nexus's analysis.

"We seem to have departments that want to make excuses as to why they're spending more instead of finding ways they can save more," Palmer said in agreement.

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