City, county leaders weigh in on consolidated Savannah-Chatham g - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

City, county leaders weigh in on consolidated Savannah-Chatham government

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CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Despite demerging the police department, Chatham County Chairman Al Scott believes there are other areas the city and county could consolidate.

This comes as state representatives in the Savannah area hope to launch a study into consolidating the entire government bodies.

Any decision on becoming one government would be up to the voters. A ballot approval would be required to make this a reality. City and county leaders are in favor if it saves money.

"Looking at it in Chatham county, if it could save money, only if it could save taxpayer money, I think it would be money well spent,” Chairman Scott said.

"I think [consolidating] is something we're going to do. I'm not sure about the time frame,” Mayor Eddie DeLoach said. “If the state comes up with the money to fund that study, I'd be glad to spend it to work up that study."

The mayor and chairman are at odds over whether departments within city and county government could merge before a consolidation.

"I'm a proponent of consolidating government, consolidating services,” Scott said. “I think now that there are still opportunities to consolidate a lot of services within Chatham County."

"We all agree to that in principle, but I haven't seen anybody rushing out and lining up from different positions,” Mayor DeLoach said. “We couldn't keep a police force together; we'll have a difficult time keeping anything else together."

Several cities and counties throughout Georgia have merged. Approving the consolidation would only take a majority vote as opposed to two-thirds.

"I don't know if the voters would approve. Even if you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the study, it would still have to be approved by the voters, and that's really the hitch with it,” Scott said.

If that vote were to pass, Chairman Scott said he could see a consolidation happening in as little as two years after the vote. Again, right now the plan is to find money in the state’s 2018 budget to fund the study. Last year, funding for the study fell out of the budget at the last minute.

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