State workers save money with fewer motel nights
PIERRE -- State government employees took fewer overnight trips for work in South Dakota during each of the past three-plus years, shaving more than $1 million of lodging expenses, according to data assembled by the state Bureau of Finance and Ma...
PIERRE -- State government employees took fewer overnight trips for work in South Dakota during each of the past three-plus years, shaving more than $1 million of lodging expenses, according to data assembled by the state Bureau of Finance and Management.
What the bureau's financial analysis also shows is the savings that resulted from fewer nights in motels will more than cover the cost of an increase in the standard rate that state government pays for those rooms.
The Legislature's rules review committee will consider the proposed $3.50 increase, to $50 per night for in-state lodging, at its meeting Tuesday. The rate has been $46.50 since 2007. The state Board of Finance approved the change at its May 1 meeting. The South Dakota Innkeepers Association requested the additional amount to help cover rising costs.
If the legislative panel goes along with the increase, the $50 rate would take effect July 1 with the start of the 2013 fiscal year.
The numbers show state government had 61,655 lodging days in fiscal 2008 and spent $2,866,949. As state finances got tighter in the subsequent years, travel was reduced, too.
For 2009, there were 58,767 lodging days at a cost of $2,732,670. In 2010, lodging days totaled 57,034 and cost $2,652,089. The 2011 numbers were 54,851 lodging days and $2,550,561.
The final data for 2012 won't be known until later this summer, but they are projected to be the same as 2011.
State Finance Commissioner Jason Dilges estimated the raise to $50, along with 1 percent more nights, will cost an additional $193,897 in 2013. That would still be about $100,000 below what was spent in 2008.
He said travel budgets probably felt the most strain during the spending reductions throughout state government in recent years. Same-day trips, telecommuting and use of aircraft were some of the methods used to reduce motel use.
"One thing we've struggled with is that far fewer owners are offering state rates at their facilities. That has forced us into other avenues for travel. It is our hope that the increased rates can spur additional interest in offering state rates at more properties," Dilges said.