IOW eyes consolidated services

Published 10:36 am Friday, October 16, 2009

ISLE OF WIGHT–As the county braces for deep budget cuts from the state, members of the Board of Supervisors want to move toward a system of shared services for different county departments.

During their meeting Thursday night, supervisors discussed the feasibility of consolidating some services that are duplicated in several county departments, including payroll, human resources, legal services, purchasing and finance and maintenance.

“There are several ways that we can consolidate services and we just aren’t doing it,” said Newport District Supervisor Stan Clark. “The time to do it is now.”

Carrsville District Supervisor Phillip Bradshaw said that the county could consolidate services as employees retire or leave.

“We haven’t taken advantage of those opportunities,” he said.

Shared services between the county and the school system were also discussed. Windsor District Supervisor Thomas Wright said that the School Board hasn’t been willing to work with the Board of Supervisors to implement cost-saving shared services.

“They just refuse to come to the table,” he said.

However, the board unanimously approved a motion that authorizes County Administrator Douglas Caskey to work with Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael McPherson to set up a joint work session for the boards.

Bradshaw even went as far as to say that some services could be shared across county lines, especially since residents in some parts of the county are closer to services in other jurisdictions.

“When we’re looking at state agencies, our hands are tied,” he said. “We need to start wiping out those political boundaries between counties and cities, so that we can cross those lines and do things.”

While consolidating services could be a cost-saving move, Bradshaw acknowledged, “It may not always be the best way.”

While the county’s revenues have been relatively stable, the state’s bleak budget outlook will likely cause even more cuts in the future.

“I see us having to make cuts across the board,” Clark said. “Maybe consolidation doesn’t happen until it gets so painful that people have to do it.”