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Tips save taxpayer money in Dunedin

Every time Del Bruce got his utility bill from the city, he saw more than just what he owed. He saw needless waste.

Why, he asked, does the city send its bill in an envelope, with a return one inside? The city instead should send the water bill on a postcard, saving money and postage, he said.

"I really and truly feel the city could save some money if they went back to a postcard system," Bruce told commissioners during a meeting Thursday night.

Turns out, he was right. The city could save an estimated $10,000 using the system, city officials said.

Bruce's suggestion was part of the cost-reduction suggestion program the city began two months ago. City Commissioner Tom Anderson, who came up with the program, said a suggestion like Bruce's made the program worthwhile.

The suggestion of using postcards is not a new one, said Lee Dodge, the city's director of administration. The city used to send out its utility bills on postcards, but stopped when the city found it was easier to send out other utility-related information in envelopes along with the bills.

Now things are different, Dodge said. There are other ways for the city to get information to residents, rendering the use of multiple envelopes obsolete and costly.

"I think the timing (of the suggestion) along with the sizable increase in the utility bill have made the commission realize now is the time to consider postcard billing," Dodge said.

Dunedin received 14 cost reduction tips, Dodge said. Two were implemented, and the city is considering a third suggestion. Another suggestion that the city already has implemented is the use of cheaper envelopes and stationery to send out intra-city mail, such as to committee members and staff, rather than the more expensive embossed kind, he said. This idea went into effect this week.

Another suggestion the commission looked at during its meeting Thursday was whether it should sell off some of the city's mini-parks. The suggestion, from Mack Hart, said the city could make money and put this land back on the tax rolls. City staff said that, in many cases, these parks were merely rights of way, housed city equipment, or were too small to be of any use to a potential buyer.