The state should fill more than 50 vacant revenue positions, centralize the leasing of state office space and have the Kansas Department of Transportation sell off rarely-used equipment -- such as wood chippers -- to save and generate cash, consultants told lawmakers Tuesday.
The firm Alvarez and Marsal, which is conducting an efficiency study of state government, revealed a sampling of recommendations designed either to cut down on spending or boost revenue.
The study is ongoing and a final report won't be released until next year, but A&M provided a teaser of what lawmakers can expect.
Among the recommendations:
The Kansas Department of Revenue should fill 53 vacant revenue officer and 14 auditor positions.
KDOT should sell 5 percent of its equipment, which would generate about $3 million.
Leasing space for state agencies should be centralized in the Department of Administration to better identify leasing opportunities and negotiate terms.
KDOT should sell sponsorship rights, generating upwards of $1 million a year from sponsorships of traveler assist hotlines, roadside logo sign programs, motorist assist programs and rest stops.
"While I would caution it's still a work in progress, we expect to present to you next month dozens of recommendations that will provide the state with hundreds of millions of dollars of benefits over the next five years," said Melissa Glynn, managing director of A&M.
"These will include recommendations that will make state operations function more efficiently, recommendations that will save money and recommendations that will bring more money into the state coffers."
A&M said budget cuts had resulted in reductions at the Department of Revenue and that an insufficient number of auditors and revenue officers have produced a backlog of taxpayers whose taxes need to be reviewed. A&M, in a statement to lawmakers, called spending the money necessary to fill the vacant positions a good investment for the state.
A&M released a handful of recommendations at a meeting of the Legislative Budget Committee. The Senate Ways and Means Committee's chairman, Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said the efficiency study would be well worth the investment.
The House Tax Committee's chairman, Rep. Marvin Kleeb, R-Overland Park, said the number of revenue officers had shrunk over several years. An experienced revenue officer can produce about $1 million to $1.5 million a year, Kleeb said. Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, also provided a similar figure.
"I know that has been an area that has been reduced over time going many, many years. This is just an accumulation of what has occurred," Kleeb said.
Under A&M's recommendations, KDOT could sell off about 5 percent of all the equipment it owns. The consulting firm said the agency has categories of equipment in which it owns more items than necessary.
As an example, A&M cited KDOT's wood chippers. KDOT should sell its rarely-used chippers and organize schedules to share chippers among locations where possible and rent additional chippers when needed.
But, Kelly said, the devil is in the details.
"If you take something like wood chippers and you say, all right, let's sell a bunch of them and just have a few and share them -- well, are they building in staff costs and transportation costs with that to give us our net savings?" Kelly said.
"I would certainly hope as we do this we're looking at those kinds of things."
This past spring, as lawmakers raised taxes to close a $400 million budget shortfall, they also approved up to $3 million for an efficiency study of state government. The Legislative Budget Committee selected A&M, and the contract was locked in at $2.6 million.
A&M is due to report the results of its study to the Legislature in early 2016. Lawmakers will face the task of balancing the budget when they return in January. The results of the study are likely to fuel debate on government spending and the state's overall fiscal health.
The final report also is expected to include recommendations related to education, but A&M officials said Tuesday they weren't yet ready to reveal what those will be.