State Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert said Tuesday he expects to save the state $1 million by trimming staff and making other cutbacks.
Hebert said the savings at the state office that oversees the regulation of alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries could be used for other needs. “A million dollars in a small agency is a lot of money,” he said.
The state is in the midst of a funding crisis, prompting heavy health care cuts.
Michael DiResto, spokesman for the Division of Administration, said Hebert’s savings will be used to mitigate cuts to higher education and health care.
Hebert said he inherited a troubled agency and made great strides by being on track to only spend roughly 85 percent of his $6.5 million annual budget. The current state budget year ends June 30.
Most of the savings come from personnel changes, he said.
Hebert, a former state senator, started work in November 2010 as commissioner. He replaced Murphy Painter, who resigned amid allegations he sexually harassed and stalked a woman. Painter also was accused of misusing the National Crime Information Center database.
After roughly six months on the job, Hebert announced plans to eliminate six positions, including one held by the son of a state senator.
Hebert offered three workers lower-paying positions and asked state officials to eliminate jobs.
He also installed a time clock, stopped paying employees for their commutes and told desk workers to leave their state vehicles at the office instead of driving them home at night.
Roughly a month ago, one ATC worker resigned and two others took a cut in pay after GPS devices installed on their vehicles revealed they were shaving hours from their work day.
Hebert said he installed Global Positioning System devices on agents’ vehicles and discovered some were taking extended lunch breaks, reporting to work late, leaving early and sometimes not coming to work at all.
He said he took a private-business-style approach to running the state office by establishing performance-based measures. Employees must accomplish a certain amount of work during the day or face consequences, he said.
Since he became commissioner, Hebert said, six employees have quit the agency. Some offered reasons for leaving but others just resigned without explanation, he said.
“I’m probably not that popular,” Hebert said.
He said he has:
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