Consolidation talk stirs debate - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Consolidation talk stirs debate

March 29, 2004

Albany-- Controversy erupts over the findings of a city/county consolidation study. Albany and Dougherty County are duplicating a lot of services, and consultants say that's a waste of money.

Monday, those consultants gave the Governmental Consolidation Committee the outcome of a study concerning consolidation. But, consultants didn't talk with all the department heads which didn't sit well with some leaders.

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek came back to his office in shock over findings from a consolidation study. "There's were no questions asked that I could give input for. That was disappointing and surprising," said Chief Cheek.

Chief Cheek was just one of a handful of department heads that consultants failed to interview before reporting that there are dozens of duplications between city and city services.

The study showed unifying the city and county police and reducing the number of public safety employees could save $850,000 a year, without jeopardizing safety. "That was the first time I had seen those numbers, and I don't know exactly what those numbers represent," said Chief Cheek.

Consultant Del Delaper says the findings came from documented information on operational and personnel cost. "There were several areas of duplications. It's a no brainer. I mean you got two managers and two police chiefs," said Delaper.

The study suggested unifying the human resources, finance, public safety, and public works departments could save as much as $2 million a year. "The cost of each of those operations and personnel cost were duplicated, and that's exactly what we found and reported on," said Delaper.

Delaper says his firm tried to interview all department heads, but some were unavailable. But, he says his findings about possible cost savings are right on.

Now, the consolidation study committee will review the findings, ask from public comment, and then take a recommendation on consolidation to city and county leaders.

The general assembly must agree to the consolidation and ultimately, the city and county voters would have to give it the go ahead. There will be a series of public hearings starting next Monday so people can give their opinions about consolidating the governments and services.

There will be six public hearings next week.

Day Date Time Place
Monday April 5 7:00PM Rm. 100, Government Center
Tuesday April 6 Noon Putney Com. Center
Tuesday April 6 7:00PM Monroe High School
Wednesday April 7 Noon R. Cross Magnet School
Wednesday April 7 7:00PM Mock Rd. Elementary
Thursday April 8 7:00PM Deerfield-Windsor School

posted at 5:35PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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