As the town’s money guy, Ken Pennoyer clicked his way through his PowerPoint slides last night, giving an overview of the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 (which begins July 1, 2012). One of the bright spots centered on the town’s reduction in health care costs for its employees. The high cost of health care and health insurance is sure to be flogged repeatedly in these coming months leading up to the presidential election in November. Yet the town’s cost for employee health insurance has decreased, in part because municipal workers are becoming more health conscious.
And maybe because, if town manager Roger Stancil is to be believed, the town has reduced the number of desktop printers in its offices. Time was that every desk had its own printer, but replacing ink cartridges put unnecessary strain on the budget and stress on the environment, given that all those empty cartridges ended up in the landfill. (Did no one in the Work Smart Save Money program think to collect up the empties and recycle them at Staples for a $3-a-pop rebate?) So the town is eliminating individual ink-jet printers for a centrally located, office-wide printer.
The consolidation will force people to get up and walk around, Stancil said, and they might even talk to someone while they’re at it. Walking and talking lead to improved mood (providing everyone in the office has mastered the art of workplace civility), which can have a positive impact on physical health.
The town has taken other actions to reduce health care costs: hiring a nurse who can treat minor illnesses that might otherwise send an employee to a doctor’s office, and organizing health education programs and healthy activities such as walking groups. But for those who can’t yet bring themselves to spend their lunch breaks walking and talking with co-workers, a roundtrip to the office printer may be the first steps to a healthier lifestyle.
– Nancy Oates