Rick Hodges, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, revealed plans to reorganize the Commission with an eye toward cutting costs.
Cost cuts include reduction in salaries and changes in employee benefits.
When asked how much the savings will total, Hodges said, “It’s very difficult to put a precise number on it, but it will be in the multimillions,” he said.
Some of the cuts will have to be negotiated through collective bargaining agreements that could save as much as $3 million.
The reorganization plan was scheduled to go to the full Commission on Monday and the Commission was expected to approve the plan.
Hodges named the four parts of the reorganization:
•Revise all benefit packages of employees, so they pay for a greater share of their benefits. Included are changes in vacation and sick leave accrual policies.
“We recognize the economy has changed, and just because we have a stable source of revenue, doesn’t mean we can’t change,” he said.
•Reduce the salaries of the top wage earners.
Hodges’ salary will go from $150,000 to $129,000; senior managers will see salaries reduced from $136,000 to $111,000.
“Nobody likes to give up money,” Hodges said, adding that people need to realize economic times have changed.
•Consolidate the turnpike information systems departments, and continue to invest in technology on the turnpike.
•Combine the maintenance and engineering departments. The move will mean fewer work zones, making travel on the turnpike easier.
Planned Since 2011
Hodges, a 1982 Archbold High School graduate and former state representative, said the changes have been in the works since he started the job of turnpike director in November 2011.
At the same time, Hodges said the Commission will continue to rebuild portions of the 241-mile highway and the addition of a third lane to each direction of travel, possibly as far west as the Toledo Express Airport.
For those who travel the turnpike, Hodges said the changes will mean fewer work zones.
“It will help us complete projects faster,” he said.–David Pugh