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Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 2:58pm

Chatham County Chairman Says He Favors More Local Government Consolidation

The leader of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners says he thinks the county and the City of Savannah could save money by merging more services.

The municipalities are searching for a new chief to lead their joint police force.
Chatham County Chairman Al Scott says taxpayers could benefit from consolidating other functions, like building permitting and recreation.

“I just think that if people will give up their turf that they’re trying to protect that there are all sorts of opportunities to save taxpayers money,” Scott says.

Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson says she hasn’t heard any specific merger proposals and has no comment on the idea.

Scott spoke after a meeting Thursday regarding the search for a new chief. Former Chief Willie Lovett resigned abruptly last year amid allegations of corruption and other misconduct in the department.

Scott says officials should conduct 20-year background checks on candidates. He's recommending a process similar to the county's approach to hiring a new manager to replace Russ Abolt, who is retiring.

Scott says as soon as a new manager is formally hired, he'd like to begin working on a strategic plan for the county within a year. That process could involve recommending that some county services merge with local municipalities, including Savannah. The Chatham County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on the nomination of William "Lee" Smith of North Carolina for county manager at a meeting on Friday.

Officials involved in the police chief search say 54 people have applied so far, and they'll continue accepting applications at least through mid-May.


Sarah McCammon