IOW eyes shared services

Published 11:19 am Saturday, October 17, 2009

ISLE OF WIGHT—As the county braces for deep cuts in state funding, members of the Board of Supervisors want to move toward a system of shared services for county departments.

During their meeting Thursday night, supervisors discussed the feasibility of consolidating some services that are duplicated, including payroll, human resources, legal, purchasing 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 board’s president. “The time to do it is now.”

Carrsville District Supervisor Phillip Bradshaw said 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.

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 supervisors and school board.

Bradshaw said some services could even be shared with other localities, 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.”

In other business, the board unanimously agreed to join with Franklin and Southampton County in a request for proposals to provide recycling service in the three localities. The Southeastern Public Service Authority will stop its recycling program in March.