Buffalo Grove officials discussed Monday night whether hiring a new staff member could help lead to long-term savings.
A plan outlined by Leisa Niemotka, assistant to Village Manager Dane Bragg, calls for the addition of an agent who would work to coordinate a centralized purchasing system.
While a full-time purchasing agent would earn at least $65,111 per year, the employee’s expertise could help reduce spending across departments, eventually recouping the expense of the additional employee, officials said during a committee of the whole meeting.
“Being able to centralize office supplies is an area where a purchasing agent could save money for us,” said Niemotka, who urged trustees to move forward with the approval process.
But when trustees asked staff to define just how much money might be saved, officials were unable to provide specific numbers.
“Something we’ve been struggling with is, ‘How do we assign a number to this so we make sense of it?’” said Bragg, who added that the purchasing agent would reduce the number of contracts and find other cost-savings opportunities.
“I think we will more than recover the cost of the position, but it’s going to take two or three years to do that,” Bragg said.
Trustees questioned whether savings could be achieved by contracting with a single office supply company, hiring a part-time purchasing agent or assigning the job to someone already on staff.
“It’s really hard for me to grasp funding this position at $60,000 a year,” Trustee Andrew Stein said.
Niemotka said the most notable savings won’t come from office supply expenses. “But if we can save 5 or 10 percent on a fire truck, that’s where we’re going to see the savings,” she said.
A purchasing agent would have an accounting background and would be tasked with building long-term relationships with vendors, negotiating better warranties for capital projects, and obtaining competitive bids by aggregating equipment purchases.
“I don’t think anyone is opposed to the program,” Village President Jeff Braiman said. “It’s whether we can afford it at this time.”
Bragg said one option could be sharing the employee through a cooperative agreement with another entity, such as the Buffalo Grove Park District or one of the township offices. While conversations have not been held with other local officials about such a partnership, “often times they’re buying the same things we’re buying,” Bragg said.
Officials will revisit the proposal at a later date.