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Johnson County auditor aims for cost-saving initiatives

BY QUENTIN MISIAG | FEBRUARY 26, 2013 5:00 AM

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Despite being in office for only two months, Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert has ushered in a number of high-profile changes that have resulted in cost savings for the county and local taxpayers.

Many officials are directed toward department-to-department training and creating a more financially efficient administrative system. To date, Weipert said he has been able to save the county thousands of dollars. Approximately  $4,000 alone has been saved with a simple accounts-receivable deadline date.

“I’m trying to be as open with [the Board of Supervisors] to see where we need to save some money,” he said. “We’d like to see the cost of a lot of the elections that are happening right now drop $5,000 to $10,000 apiece with cross-training.”

Recently, the Auditor’s Office has cut back on gasoline consumption and vehicular wear and tear by partnering with the County Assessor’s Office in a new automobile-sharing service.¬†

“We’ve probably saved a couple hundred dollars so far,” Weipert said. “Maybe once a month, we’ll coordinate with them to use their smaller cars. We can’t be taking three people to conferences in our eight-passenger vehicles. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Weipert, who defeated incumbent Tom Slockett in the June 2012 primary, officially resigned from the Tiffin City Council in August 2012.

Colleagues of Weipert say the new auditor has helped make day-to-day operations streamlined and efficient. Many said a new face was a welcome change.

“Travis has been a breath of fresh air,” Supervisor Janelle Rettig wrote in an email. “He is engaged, collaborates with other offices, empowers staff, and is eliminating clutter. In the coming months, I’m looking forward to seeing his plans to make the office more efficient.”

Weipert said serving as a former Tifin city councilor and as an Iowa legislative page motivated him to seek a more prominent public office where he could have a stronger role in county operations.

“The big thing is I’ve always worked in politics,” he said. “I had worked in corporate America for 12 years, but I’ve always felt like I’ve wanted to help out the community. In a role like this, I feel like you have a bigger role to play.”

Weipert declined to comment on former Auditor Tom Slockett’s $58,000 in unauthorized technology spending reported in October 2012 but did say he has much to learn in the still-new position.

“We’re talking about a guy who was in office for 30-plus years,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a knowledge gap between us, but I’ve talked to him quite a few times, and he’s been really helpful. It’s one of those things somebody can’t teach you overnight. It takes you a couple of years to build up the knowledge he has.”

Slockett could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

County Treasurer Tom Kriz said talks are underway concerning the creation of a county finance division is just one example of the many initiatives Weipert has targeted for completion in the coming weeks. Weipert, he said, has an excellent adaptability skill set that has made pushing initiatives forward easier than in years past.

“With him, we are actually interacting between office and office now,” Kriz said. “We’re looking at ways to make both offices more efficient. It’s truly just his openness to looking at how his office and our office do business in general. I see creativity and some things that we just haven’t seen out of that office in quite some time. It has been, in a simple word, tremendous.”

Kriz also pointed to Weipert’s social-media presence on both Facebook and Twitter as examples of his innovative, contemporary measures in place.

“You have to adapt to change,” he said. “His ability to want to do that is a plus to Johnson County. I think he will be on the cutting edge to get the information out. That’s part of adapting to the needs of the people in the community.”


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