Some members of the task force working on the merger of Macon and Bibb County governments are worried that theyre running out of time.
The most important thing everyones talking about here is developing a sense of urgency, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said Friday.
The new consolidated government is scheduled to take over from the current city and county governments in January 2014. Friday, the Technology Committee of the transition task force recommended an overseer for unifying computer systems and endorsed a vendor for new software to run basic government functions.
But those recommendations still need to be ratified by the full task force, and then approved by the city and county -- which can take weeks -- before they can go into full effect.
With many decisions left to make, on projects that can take months to accomplish, some are fearful that some essential tasks could remain undone Jan. 1
Sheriff David Davis acknowledged that not all public-safety computer functions will be in place on day one. The sheriffs office, which will absorb city police, is going to set up critical systems such as dispatch first, he said.
Reichert noted that many top officials of existing governments, such as himself and Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart are on the task force. That helps, but it likely will take special meetings of government bodies to quickly approve some big decisions, and the willingness of both the city and county to shoulder substantial costs, Reichert said.
Its going to take a working partnership with all of us to get this done, he said.
One of those impending choices is who will oversee the merger of city and county computer networks. Committee members agreed with consultant Bob Lewis recommendation of a neutral party, not a current city or county employee. Reichert previously proposed someone from the Middle Georgia Regional Commission.
We are willing to serve in that capacity if whoevers job it is to decide that, decides that, Laura Mathis, regional commission deputy director, said Friday.
Brent Lanford, also a deputy director, and Nick Kouloungis, senior government services specialist, can take a team approach to the task, Mathis said.
That recommendation was unanimously approved for the full task force to consider, as was the choice of New World Systems to supply software.
A city-county selection committee headed by Tom Buttram, county Inspections & Fees director, unanimously recommended New World, said Dale Walker, city interim chief administrative officer.
New World was the low bidder of four, asking $1.2 million for a public administration software package. Also lowest is New Worlds estimated five-year maintenance cost of $432,000.
Buttram was out of town Friday, so Mathis read a statement from him that called for speedy purchase of needed computer hardware. The software vendors said thats vital, according to Buttrams statement.
All stressed that we must gain momentum if we are to have any chance of meeting our January deadline, he wrote.
But actually buying hardware and software alike and deciding who will foot the bill may not happen soon. The county has $2.5 million set aside for buying software, Bibb County Information Technology Director Grant Faulkner said. But the city doesnt have a similar fund, Walker said, though he nodded in agreement that the city and county generally have accepted a 50-50 cost split.
We werent ready for consolidation, Walker said.
Reichert suggested the county buy the software, recognizing that all funds will go into the common pot under the new government.
Bibb County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards said that might be a tough sell to commissioners, just as some Macon City Council members have balked at paying previous consolidation bills.
To contact writer Jim Gaines call 744-4489.