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Officials say efficiency study coming soon

By Justin Boron

Findings are expected within 10 days from an efficiency study that could recommend sweeping changes to the government's departmental structure.

The $35,000 evaluation intends to streamline operations and has been anticipated for several months. Speculation about its results have raised the possibilities of consolidating resources of the county's numerous departments and divisions.

Meanwhile, County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell has disclosed little about his discussions with researchers from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

Bill Horton, the interim spokesman for the county commission, said he had discussed the report with Bell and he had no firm timeline to offer for its completion. But he said it appears to be on the horizon.

"It sounded like it was going to be soon," Horton said.

John O'Looney, one of the study's supervisors at the Athens-based institute, said a feedback meeting with Bell and the commissioners is all that he needs to finalize the study.

"It's really in their hands," he said.

Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer said based on what Bell had told him, the study should be public in about 10 days.

Although the findings will come as non-binding recommendations, he said it was likely that some action will result from the research.

Interviews with department heads and comparisons with other governments similar to Clayton County were used to generate the report, O'Looney said.

The study specifically addresses the government's "span of control," or the amount of supervision required for each level of government, O'Looney said.

In other words, the study will define how layered the county's government is and whether its operation can be improved by adding or removing some of those layers, he said.

Commissioner Charley Griswell said while he has not seen the report, he embraces the idea that "big is not always good."

He said he would be against consolidating the resources certain departments like community development, which currently handles business licenses, permits, building inspections, housing code inspections and planning and zoning.

"I'm one that wants to look real strong at what they want to do away with," Griswell said.