Agency merger proposal greeted with skepticism

Published 8:34 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

A study that could lead to the consolidation of several Davie County agencies was met with skepticism by county commissioners.

Social services, the health department, domestic violence prevention and other agencies could be molded into one agency, creating “immediate opportunities,” said consultant Sherri Bradsher, who had interviewed involved agencies and presented a preliminary report to the county.

“There are more reasons to than not to,” she said. “The reasons not to  … are about the barriers.”

County Manager John Eller said the consolidation could help agencies that have more needs than resources, and could create efficiencies, including getting people to the right agency quicker and eliminating duplication of services.

“We want to develop this together,” Eller said. “We still have a lot of work to do on this project.”

Commissioner Mark Jones said there were too many “ifs” and “maybes,” and questioned how creating another department with a leader would cut costs.

“I’m not sure what we gain … by just kind of re-naming things,” he said.

Eller said it would be a consolitation of functions, not the creation of more functions.

Commissioner Robert Wisecarver asked how many people would lose their jobs. Eller said a reduction in workers probably wouldn’t happen up front, but through atrition.

“I haven’t heard a whole lot of guarantees,” Wisecarver said. “Do department heads have any reservations?”

Eller said department heads have been a part of the process, and will be involved in future discussions.

Commissioner John Ferguson said he would like to see a proposed three-year budget for the plan before making a decision.