County, schools might join forces

Friday, May 8, 2009

A lengthy meeting between the school board's maintenance committee and some county commissioners ended with a unanimous expression of interest in merging the county's and the school system's maintenance departments.

"Theoretically is should be effective and save the tax payer money," said committee chairman Craig Michael. "Everybody here would like to see it work."

Marshall County has not had its own maintenance personnel since the county entered into a maintenance contract with Carrier Corp. about four years ago. Almost a year ago, before renewing the Carrier contract for another five years, some county commissioners explored the idea of using school system personnel to maintain county buildings, but the idea fizzled out and the commission ended up signing with Carrier again. Then they heard that they should have asked for bids on the maintenance contract, instead of just accepting what Carrier offered.

"We're here to see if you are interested or not interested," said commissioner Mickey King. "We need to decide for next year."

It is proposed to hire two additional people, and have them work on county tasks first. The work would be overseen and prioritized by Sheldon Davis, the board of education's maintenance supervisor.

"It can work," said Davis, when asked for his opinion. "I can't see any downside."

"Do you foresee it taking away from the schools?" asked school board member Randy Perryman.

"Not as long as we have two people dedicated to the county," replied Davis.

"My main concern is for Sheldon," said school board member Kristen Gold. "I'm sure he's capable, but a person can be overloaded. I want us to be really careful."

"We can handle it," Davis said confidently, even though taking on the county's buildings would more than double the number of structures he is responsible for.

Michael had concerns about the lack of information available on what maintenance had been done on county buildings and at what cost in time and money.

"We need figures of the hours spent per building for the last year, three years, and five years," said Michael. "That would give me more confidence that we know what's needed."

Davis said he could capture these figures, but only for the school buildings, and just from the start of 2009.

Michael was also concerned that the county commissioners were not actively seeking bids from other companies. "In business I would not entertain going to one supplier without bids in hand (from several other ones). I would encourage you to pursue other options."