Will consolidation come to pass? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will consolidation come to pass?

December 13, 2004

Albany-- A Study Commission has officially recommended to combine Albany and Dougherty County government departments. Now it's up to City and County commissioners.

Monday, Dougherty County Commissioners heard the recommendation from study commission members. Some of those members admit they started the study with a strong opinion not to consolidate.

More than a year later, they have decided the unification would improve the economy and efficiency of our area. The 100-page study report recommends that the city and county governments be combined into one.

Albany-Dougherty Governmental Study Commission members have voted unanimously to recommend the marriage of city and county government. "For 25 years we've talked about and we've come a long way the past 15 months," said County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard. "Our citizens would be better served to have a consolidated government."

The study shows by unifying departments like Human Resources, Finance, Police and Public Works-- more than one million dollars will be saved every year.

But, money will be lost in the beginning. "Initially, you are not going to save." said County Commissioner George Brown. "I would not advocate terminating any employees or laying off people. It would take a period of a few years to start realizing saving."

The decision didn't come easily, and there's still lots to do. The consolidation recommendation has to be passed by City and County Commissioners. "At some point in time the two bodies need to come together to address the issue," said Sinyard.

Then the issue goes to the General Assembly, then it would go to the citizens.

Many study members admit they were skeptical at first, but in the end the change would make the government process less confusing for businesses and the community.

There will be one place to go to get answers. "The full ability to change the government from two to one, it's a very, very difficult task," Sinyard said. And a task that will take some time to get to.

County Commission Chairman Sinyard would like to vote on consolidation next year, during the first of the quarter. City Commissioners will officially hear about the study results Tuesday.

posted at 4:55PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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