County Lights Left On At Night Cost Taxpayers Big Bucks

(Shelby County) It’s 3:30 in the morning and almost every light in city hall is off. The mayor says he even goes in after hours to make sure all those switches are turned down.

And next door at the federal building, it’s almost completely black, with every single light off.

But right across the street at the county building, all the lights are on, costing you the taxpayer a pretty penny.

Lights staying on at the county building isn’t a new problem, but it’s the first time anyone’s shining a light on it.

Take a look at this picture of the same building last summer, again at 3:30 in the morning.

Tom Needham is Shelby County’s public works director and said he didn’t realize the lights were on all night until we asked him about it.

“That should not be the case,” he said. “The only reason a light would be on at 3 in the morning is if a floor crew comes up and cleans.”

Reporter: “But you said that would be floor by floor?”

“Yes, that would be floor by floor,” Needham replied.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved by just turning off the lights.

It’s why private companies like Raymond James and iBank, who must pay their own bills, shut off their lights every night.

But the county relies on your tax money.

Last year, it approved the largest ever property tax hike and budget chair Heidi Shafer expects more money problems this year, so saving every penny matters.

“We need to set an example and we need to make sure we are being as frugal with the money and as efficient with our electricity as possible,” she said. “We want to conserve energy.”

The county building is in the middle of a renovation, and a computer program is supposed to turn the lights on at 6 a.m. and turn them off at 9 p.m.

Needham isn’t sure why that’s not happening.

“I appreciate you bringing that to our attention,” he told us. “I will be sure our computer system gets a trend log so we can prevent that from happening.”

Needham says he’s now working with the IT department to make sure the lights are out.

If the county gets the computer system fixed and the lights go off at night, it’s supposed to save taxpayers $300,000 a year…the lights just have to be off at night for that to happen.

2 comments

  • Anonymous

    The IT department has nothing to do with the lights going off automatically. I work for IT, so I know what I’m talking about. There is no PC or server controlling these lights (unless it belongs to the building engineer and is maintained by a 3rd party).

    The floors that have been renovated (9,10,11) have motion sensors that turn the lights on when motion is detected, and there is IT working most of the night on the 10th floor. Cleaning crews go floor to floor emptying trash in the evenings.

    IMO the blame lies with the contractors that installed the new lighting.

  • Hard Truths

    The govt is always the first to get new technology –because a politician’s friend just HAPPENS to have some to sell — where IS Willie’s capo these days? — and it always comes with bugs. Govt computers are routinely DOWN in a way that would drain my patience in15 minutes max.

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