JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Revenue did their budget proposal differently this year by starting from scratch. Touting the Department’s commitment to being outstanding stewards of Missouri taxpayers’ money, Missouri Department of Revenue Director Joel Walters led his team through a budget exercise that looked different from the approach departments have used in the past.
“Drawing upon my years of experience as a senior finance executive, I encouraged my team to thoroughly examine the previous year’s budget and to be very intentional about looking for inefficiencies and identifying opportunities for savings,” Walters said. “This was a departure from the Department’s long-standing practice of starting with the previous year’s budget and adding new items to it.”
This resulted in a budget reduction totaling $2,590,220; and full-time employee (FTE) reduction of 56.5 positions, which Walters presented to the House budget and Senate appropriations committees.
“It’s an unusual and positive occurrence anytime a government agency self-examines operations and comes up with efficiencies that reduce the spend of taxpayer dollars to provide the same level of service,” Sen. Bill Eigel, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. “The mission of DOR hasn’t changed, so this new request reflects a commitment in DOR to do business more effectively. I understood from Director Walters’ testimony that this reduction is the culmination of two years of effort to streamline his department. These efficiency dividends are great for Missouri.
Walters recognizes that the Department’s people are its biggest asset. Accordingly, any reductions in full-time employees have been the result of attrition. Each year, the Department experiences about 22-percent attrition.
“We will continue to focus on transforming the department into a world-class organization,” Walters said. “To that end, we have charted a course that incorporates five specific areas of focus: embedded transformational purpose, focus on service culture, partnership, employee recognition and engagement, and the IT Roadmap.”
Many of the reductions are relying on improved technology and streamlining, including the use of the new software, Revenue Premier. Walters proposed reducing the overall budget by $2,169,620 but reinvesting $1,906,620 into line items for technology, application development, and other staff.
The strategy was to take the savings identified and reinvest in three areas: people, technology, and returning some of the money to the state and the taxpayers it serves.
In all, the budget the department submitted to the governor proposed a savings of more than a quarter of a million dollars, or $263,000, to be exact, with a net reduction of 40.5 employees.
In the last fiscal year, DOR’s Compliance Review Team increased collections for highways, cities, and counties by approximately $2.9 million – $288,373 for each employee on the team.
“Certainly Governor Parson’s priorities – workforce development, infrastructure and making government work better – are our priorities as well, and to support those, we are really focusing on people and technology,” Walters said.
Rachael Herndon is the editor at The Missouri Times, and also produces This Week in Missouri Politics, publishes Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosts the #moleg podcast. She joined the Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.
To contact Rachael, email email@example.com, or via Twitter @TheRachDunn.