Thursday, December 11, 2008


Parsimony is defined as the quality of being careful, frugal, even stingy with money. Always a virtue, the principle of parsimony has become essential to the City's salvation in the present, troubled economy.

Like most other governmental entities, American Fork is struggling this year with slow revenues. Sales taxes have slowed; building permits and impact fees are at a virtual standstill. Department heads have been instructed to delay capital expenditures either temporarily or indefinitely and to submit requisitions only for those items necessary to the continued operation of their programs.

Large measures such as these are key to keeping the City in the black, but equally important are the small, parsimonious economies because, as Benjamin Franklin so aptly observed, even a small leak will sink a great ship.

So instead of buying a dead Christmas tree for the annual downtown Santa Claus event this year, the Beautification committee spent the same money to plant a live fir. Those dollars will be recouped over several years' worth of budgets, and the tree will beautify Robinson Park year-round.

The Beautification committee went one step further and held its annual appreciation dinner in a member's home. Members each contributed a dish, thus saving a large restaurant check -- money which they hope will remain available to them for future projects.

For its part, the City Council approved an agreement Tuesday night with Enterprise Rent-A-Car which will save money on travel to trainings and workshops. Reimbursing for mileage at the IRS rate was costing the City 58 cents per mile; renting from Enterprise will cost 27 cents per mile. On a round trip to St. George, that's a savings of close to $200.

These are just a few examples of cost-cutting measures being taken City-wide. Other measures under investigation include reevaluating the City's cell phone policy, thinning the number of annuals planted at City properties this summer, keeping tighter reins on the thermostats, and moving to the 4-10 work week.

The current recession is no picnic, but if there is a silver lining to this cloud, it is that it forces the City to find and practice greater economies -- economies that will continue to save the taxpayer money when the recession ends.