When your light bulb goes on here’s a way to make it shine

Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

Got a good idea? We all have what seems like a good idea from time to time but often have no place to go with it. In the case of this Sheboygan County Supervisor, when I come across something that I think could save taxpayers a few dollars I suggest it to a county department head or forward the idea to Adam Payne, Sheboygan County Administrator.

Although any citizen can make a suggestion to their own county supervisor or a Sheboygan County department head, most times people will hesitate because they are not sure anyone will listen or they are not sure who is the right person to contact.

So, here is an offer. If you have what you think is a good idea that you feel would save the county money, make it more efficient or would overall be a helpful, let me know and I will pass your suggestion along to the right place.

But I ask you to keep your suggestion to about 75 words or less and include your name, address, email and telephone number so I can follow up for more information if needed. I will provide my email and address at the end of this column.

One of my areas of interest is in saving electrical, heating fuel, gas and other energy costs. These are big ticket items for the county including plowing, grass cutting, road building, heating buildings , sheriff gas patrol usage, lighting and lists goes on.

One of the places I send my ideas from time to time is to Jim TeBeest, Sheboygan County Building Service Director.

In 2009 TeBeest set up a regular meeting schedule with a technical group to look at methods we could use to save on energy costs - to date that work has saved over $650,000 and counting. So ideas shared with others can and does save money.

My most recent suggestion on possible energy saving will be sent to Jim DeBeest the same day I complete this column. I’m sure he will be happy to receive my idea, review it, and let me know if the suggestion might be helpful to Sheboygan County or if it is one that they have already looked at as an option.

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wednesday, April 23 (Page 3D), there is a story on how Port Washington retooled squad cars to cut cost.

Their newest vehicles are now run on propane instead of gasoline. With the change, Police Captain Mike Keller reported that, after some review of the options available, they decided on using propane and are finding saving of some $500 a month on fuel for a car vs. what they paid for gas.

The story said that the propane prices, even with shortages in Wisconsin last winter, were more stable than gasoline.

It went on to say that propane works well for small fleet vehicles but natural gas works better with larger sized trucks. In any such review, one must always consider up-front costs in any change, number of vehicles being used and other issues.

We always hope, if one community or agency finds an energy saving method that works for them, that they will share those findings with others.

That seems to be what the city of Port Washington and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is doing. And, if another agency has a question, I’m sure the people working in Port Washington will help.

My goal is for Jim DeBeest to review the news item I’m sending him for possible fuel changes with his technical committee and department heads for the possibility of retooling, not only for squad cars, county vehicles but some heavy highway equipment.

As for readers who thinks he/she has a positive idea for saving taxpayer dollars or improving services, you can send that information (75 words or less) to: Jim Baumgart, 722 North 26th Street, Sheboygan, WI 53081 - email: jimcob@bytehead.com.

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