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Commissioners have high hopes for study

Review to analyze how county is run

Review to analyze how county is run

December 11, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners said they hope a study they authorized last week will recommend ways to save tax dollars, possibly through cost-cutting measures that include department consolidations and the elimination of positions.

Some County Commissioners said they want the government analysis to clarify the roles of county administrative employees.

"This is a new board. We want to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers that elected us," Commissioner James F. Kercheval said Friday. "We're not only looking to be as lean as we can be, but we're also looking for ways we may be able to save money."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the study, to be conducted by an outside consultant, will look at most aspects of county government, including administrative positions and duties, the highway department and the Forty West Landfill.

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"There's really never been a full review of something like that," Snook said.

Public safety and education will not be included in the study, which could take six to nine months.

The commissioners last week agreed to seek bids for a consultant to perform the review, rather than perform the study in-house. That move is designed to give the commissioners a neutral assessment of the county's organizational structure, they said.

Funding for the review will come from county positions that have not been filled, they said.

Kercheval said he didn't think the study will recommend that many positions be cut, but he hoped the analysis would help the county prepare for anticipated state budget cuts this coming fiscal year.

The commissioners may have to ask county organizations to make budget cuts, depending on how much funding the county receives from the state, officials have said.

"We're trying to make sure our own house is in order before we ask anyone else to tighten their belts," Kercheval said.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said he hopes the review will be a game plan for future changes in county government.

Wivell said he wanted the county administrator position, held by Rodney Shoop, to be converted to an interim position until the study is completed.

He favored Shoop's job becoming an interim post because the study may recommend changes to the position, he said.

"The study could identify a different set of skills and traits for that position," Wivell said.

The commissioners, instead, voted 4-1 last Tuesday to reappoint Shoop. Wivell voted against the reappointment.

Wivell said he thinks the county's human resources and payroll departments can be consolidated with the Washington County Board of Education's departments.

The commissioners said the study wasn't meant to represent a lack of confidence in county employees and that they think staff is doing a good job.

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