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Consolidation of Government Functions Task Force holds meeting

June 11, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Greater Hagerstown Committee has formed a task force to consider ways local government entities might be more efficient by partnering or consolidating with other government agencies.

The first meeting of the Consolidation of Government Functions Task Force, made up of government and business leaders, was held Monday.

Greater Hagerstown Committee Chairman Mike Callas said Friday the task force was sparked by the work of the Management Review Team, a 35-member group of area business leaders who recently spent three weeks studying the Washington County school system.

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The team was appointed by Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan in March to find ways to make the system more efficient and to save money.

The team's resulting report listed 80 recommendations for improving the operation of the school system, including looking into consolidating some of the central office's functions with the county government's. Those functions could include payroll, insurance and workers' compensation claims, roads and grounds maintenance, and transportation and vehicle maintenance.

Callas said the task force will explore that option.

Morgan, County Administrator Rodney Shoop and Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner said Friday they think the task force is a good idea.

"I am optimistic we'll look at various ways and efficiencies that can be gained by partnering in various areas, in addition to what we are already doing," Shoop said Friday

For example, he said, in April the county began handling for the city of Hagerstown nonconstruction bids for purchases of more than $25,000. The City Council still approves the purchases.

The arrangement could lead to savings on joint purchases, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman has said.

The committee will be a way for task force members to suggest consideration of other possible changes, task force Chairman Rich Reichenbaugh, principal partner of Associated Engineering Services Inc., said during Monday's meeting.

Task force member and Washington County Commissioner William J. Wivell has suggested the county do more partnering with other governments. There are duplications between the county, the city of Hagerstown and the Washington County Board of Education and savings could be realized by working together, he has said.

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