N’hampton Public Works study approved

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 7, 2004

JACKSON – In their regular meeting here Tuesday, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners authorized an efficiency study to be conducted on the Department of Public Works,-Water and Sewer Division.

The decision, which comes just over a week after the board approved a similar study on the county jail, came as a result of a suggestion made, in March, by auditor Bryan Starnes of Martin Starnes and Associates, after he concluded a mid-year review of the county’s finances in the interest of possible cost savings.

According to Public Works Director Andy Crew, the Masonboro Group, Inc. from Wilmington, proposed a contract to conduct the study for a cost of $6,750, which would be funded out of the Enterprise Fund Balance for fiscal year 2004-2005.

&uot;I have discussed this matter with the County Manager and the Finance Officer and they support this study being done in an effort to operate the department as effectively and efficiently as possible,&uot; said Crew.

The study will address areas of efficiency and effectiveness, operational procedures and associated costs, the impact of operations and staffing levels and will provide the results of the study to the board along with recommendations to consider.

The Masonboro Group is the same company currently conducting the efficiency study on the county jail.

During a discussion, Commissioner James Boone requested postponing the decision to approve the study and asked the county to consider performing efficiency studies on all the departments at one time, an idea that was rejected out of prudence by other board members to preserve the budget and see how the studies specifically recommended by the auditor turned out.

&uot;I think it would be better to move forward with this study based on the auditor’s counsel, but if we authorize studies on the whole county, we run the risk of breaking the budget,&uot; said Vice Chair Robert Carter.

Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins and the County Finance Officer Dot Vick concurred that there were indeed not enough funds to support the wide range of studies at this time.

Crew stated that he felt it would be in the county’s best interest to examine the results of the two recommended studies before performing additional studies.

Approval for the study was marked by a four to one vote in favor of the study with Boone opposed and is scheduled for completion approximately eight to 12 weeks after its start date of August 1.