Norwalk sanitation superintendent Jeff Montgomery has earned the "Taxpayer Hero Award."
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost created this award to acknowledge government officials who demonstrate initiative with innovative ideas to cut costs and/or increase efficiency with their respective entities.
"Mr. Montgomery has implemented changes in routing and pickup procedures over the past several years, resulting in a savings of $150,000 annually for the city," Mayor Rob Duncan said.
"This is a remarkable achievement, reflecting the hard work and willingness of Jeff and his employees to implement news ideas in the sanitation department," the mayor added.
Yost was scheduled to present the award to Montgomery at the sanitation department, but Yost had to postpone the event because his daughter had a baby Friday.
"I was shocked," Montgomery said about earning the award.
He was nominated by former safety-service director Mark Schloemer.
Montgomery spoke, specifically, about what changes were made at the sanitation department which resulted in the savings.
Montgomery said a few years ago he had an employee who was leaving for full-time military duty.
"We were in the red, then, and I knew I had to eliminate that position once he left," he said. "I also knew I wanted to eliminate a truck off a route.
"I talked to the administration about evening out the routes and fitting the trash on two trucks rather than three," Montgomery said.
Montgomery said some days crews would collect 24 tons of trash, while on others, just 12 tons.
"On Jan. 24, 2011, we implemented changes," he said.
"We saved a lot of money by eliminating the position and also on fuel," Montgomery added.
"Something else we wanted to try to do was eliminating the majority of left-hand turns on the routes," he said. "We found too many trucks waiting to make left-hand turns and that's a waste of fuel and time.
"We wanted routes that were almost all right-hand turns," Montgomery said.
Montgomery said much of the credit goes to the sanitation employees.
"Nobody likes change," he said. "But our employees worked hard on this, asked questions and it worked out perfect. We've been able to balance out the routes to within a ton of each other."
The residents also had to be understanding.
"This really affected the routes in Sycamore Hills, Midtown Manor, Chatham Street and the uptown apartments," Montgomery said. "It affected about 500 homes.
"The residents don't like change either so if you are going to make a change, you need to make sure it's 100-percent right," he said.