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CHARLES WESTBROOK: Education public on consolidation

Carlton, thanks for providing additional information in your Sunday article related to Intergovernmental Agreements and Consolidation. I would imagine there were plenty of “naysayers” back in the 70’s when the concept of intergovernmental agreements was presented, just as there are several today who have not been able to see, as City Manager Mr. Taylor once put it, a “blinding flash of the obvious”. It seems ironic that some are praising the past efforts that were made to consolidate services with these agreements, yet want to condemn anyone who brings up the subject of consolidation to reduce the remaining inefficiencies of duplicated services.

As you have outlined in your article there are many service agreements that are in place between the County and the City. These agreements in themselves are inefficient just by having to keep up with them, periodically renegotiate them, and make payments back and forth to each other’s Finance Department. We also have 14 commissioners (7 for the County and 7 for the City) compared to other much larger counties operating with just 5 commissioners. There were hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the City and County to renegotiate the recent LOST fund split only to arrive at the same split that has been in place for the past 20 years. All of these add costs to operate our County and City government agencies. As for the challenges mentioned in your article by Mr. Taylor, those are minimal compared to the overall benefits, and can be accomplished over time with good planning and decision making.

When a potential Commission candidate mentions he wants to raise the salaries of County employees, the obvious question must be, where will the money come from to do this? Hopefully this is not another candidate who wants to further increase our already high property taxes. Making this kind of statement is irresponsible without a plan to get there. We all would like for these employees to be paid a fair salary, eliminate the furlough days and improve the pay challenges these people are faced with. Further reductions in the duplicated services that exist, as you and Commissioner Lyle have pointed out, would help accomplish this challenge by providing savings and additional money to increase salaries. We need to reduce expenses, and further eliminate duplicated services and inefficiencies to provide these needed funds. Articles, such as this one by Carlton Fletcher, helps to further educate the residents about these challenges. Thanks.

Charles Westbrook

Albany, Ga.