The realities of consolidation (cost) will soon set in

December 6, 2013 

If anyone doubted the ability of the new consolidated government to lower its cost by 20 percent by the 2017 budget, go to the head of the class. It’s not gonna happen, no matter what state Sen. Cecil Staton thinks. And he’s smart enough to know that, but it gave him the political cover to support the effort.

Just do the math. The new government has two new fire stations that will come on line in the next two years. Certainly, the buildings and equipment will be paid for with SPLOST proceeds, but how about the manpower? That comes out of taxpayer pockets, and well it should. No one in his or her right mind would suggest that fire protection isn’t one of government’s core responsibilities.

Sheriff David Davis has already told the new commission that to equalizing pay between police department officers and deputies will cost $1 million. No one would suggest that officers and deputies of the same rank and longevity of service riding in the same cruiser should be paid differently.

And then there are additional expenses in merging two governments into one. Some will say that attrition will cover the additional cost. Do the math. Attrition and retirements are not enough.

And oh, did we forget to mention the new and improved animal welfare center? We can’t expect it to run properly with the present level of staffing. Fortunately, in their infinite wisdom, our legislators included the “get-out-of-budget-cuts caveat in the legislation. The new commission doesn’t have to meet the 5 percent annual reduction if it would impact public safety. That may protect the new commission from having to make some very unpleasant choices that would likely get them unelected.

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