Last winter’s mild conditions were a key factor that allowed the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to recently contribute $8 million to the state’s budget.
“Savings in KDOT’s 2015 operations budget came about in large part through less spending on labor and materials – [such as] sand and salt -- as a result of a mild winter,” Steve Swartz, KDOT’s chief public affairs officer, told TI News Daily.
Of KDOT’s $250 million fiscal year 2015 operations budget, the agency spent approximately $239 million on salaries and wages, contractual services, commodities, and capital outlay, among other line items. From the overall $11 million savings, the agency contributed $8 million to the state, which will use the windfall to reduce debt.
"But there were also significant salary savings through retirements, attrition and keeping positions open,” Swartz said in an interview. Likewise, the agency was able to avoid making layoffs or cancelling or delaying projects, such as several upcoming state highway construction and maintenance projects planned for bridges in numerous districts.
Swartz said that KDOT also “saw savings in capital outlay through reduced spending on equipment, trucks, building maintenance and more.”
For other state DOTs, Swartz advised administrators to “look for the little things because they do add up” to considerable savings. For instance, “When confronted with a need that has some cost associated with it,” he said, “determine what are the true impacts if fulfilling that need is delayed.”
Swartz said KDOT’s plans are to continue following that advice when it comes to saving money. This isn't “a budget plan per se,” Swartz said, “just a culture and expectation that KDOT funding would be used in the most cost-effective way possible."
The agency’s FY 2016 operations budget mirrors last year’s and has been set at $250 million.