Mayor Chris Beutler today will present the Mayor's Award of Excellence for October to Rachelle Hinze in the City-County Purchasing Division of the City Finance Office. The award will be presented at 3 p.m. at the beginning of the City Council meeting at the County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City.
Hinze was nominated in the category of loss prevention by Purchasing Agent Bob Walla for her work with the City, Lancaster County and the Public Building Commission (PBC) on billing discrepancies. As a Buyer, she purchases items and services that cost less than $25,000. She also manages most of the surplus property process for the City and County.
In 2016, Purchasing became aware of billing discrepancies for cell phones and data services from the contracted vendor, Verizon. Hinze was asked to look into the issues, and her initial review showed areas where agencies could save money if they minimized the number of plans available. She recommended specific plans based on usage and the type of equipment used.
Over six months, Hinze worked with Verizon and all the agencies to determine the plans that were associated with each account. She reviewed hundreds of pages of Verizon reports and agency correspondence, to determine which accounts were in use and why the amounts on the bills were so different. Meetings with Verizon helped develop a list of plans that were effective and efficient. In the first month of service with all devices on the limited plans, Hinze reviewed all invoices and worked with Verizon to resolve problems. She continues to work with agencies and Verizon to ensure that plans are still fitting the employees' specific needs.
Hinze's work resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in savings to the City, County and PBC. It also raised awareness by agencies of the monthly billing rates to prevent future issues. Walla wrote, "Shelly continued her work as a Buyer while conducting the audit of all Verizon accounts. Her dedication to her Buyer position and desire to save taxpayer money, while improving customer service is why this request for Mayor's Award of Excellence is being requested."
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are customer service, safety, valor and productivity. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description.
All City employees are eligible for the award except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: hr) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Human Resources Department, which oversees the awards program.
All nominations are considered by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.