Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News
The City of Fort Worth honored six employees who offered up creative ways to save the city money in the Big Idea Challenge.
Local governments have been looking to save money anyway they can in recent years. In October, the City of Fort Worth turned to its employees on the front lines for ideas on how to improve the city's bottom line with the Big Idea Challenge.
Tuesday morning, during city council presentations, the mayor awarded six employees with $5,000 prize money for their ideas that could end up saving the city money.
"Obviously the city doesn't want to ask taxpayers for any more money that it has to and our employees are front line people," Mayor Betsy Price said. "We want to empower them to think outside the box and tell us what we can do to help make their job easier as well as save money."
The Six Winning Ideas
Outside of City Hall the parked city vehicles may not strike you as anything but normal, but if occupied they would likely be running. Firefighter John Bell pointed out that the city has no policy against idling city vehicles when no work is being done.
That idea is one of six that split a $5,000 donation from Community Trust Bank.
Another prize winning idea, came from Greg Nelson, a civilian who works for the fire department.
"Just to have the fire protection plans picked up instead of mailed out, just to save some postage," Nelson said.
Nelson admitted he was surprised his idea won, but its something Mayor Price said during the council meeting presentation to the employees she helped implement when she was the Tarrant County Tax Collector-Assessor.
Those little ideas can add up and another employee had a similar suggestion and split the prize with Nelson.
"The old adage, watch your pennies and the dollars will watch themselves and these are all great ideas," Price said.
Other ideas included making all city facilities tobacco-free and requiring future employees to be tobacco-free as well.
Another idea would give employees the option of donating vacation time to their retirement account. That would potentially save the city in retirement contributions.
The last idea would remove a limit on how much developers can contribute to roadway improvements. An idea Price said could save millions.
All of these ideas, city staff points out, are still ideas that have to be vetted before they can be implemented. But Price hopes this is just the start in making city government run more effectively.
"What we want to do is starting breaking the mold and breaking the silos and start thinking real creatively," Price said.
The city and Community Trust Bank plan to continue the Big Idea Challenge next year and beyond in hopes the $5,000 donation will be well worth what the city can save.