Many hands make light work; Dad

Friday, November 11, 2011

My father was a Pennsylvania Dutchman.

His hometown wasn't much different from Lewisburg and there were Amish people as well as Mennonites in and around the town where he was born and grew up.

Grandpa was a merchant and there were many farmers for his trade.

One of the sayings from the Pennsylvania Dutchmen is "Many hands make light work."

A barn raising, or some other project went faster and with less work per person if there were more volunteers who'd help start and finish the job.

It was a simpler time, but the saying still rings true.

Tuesday morning, the immediate past county mayor here said he was surprised that Maury County hadn't spent $100,000 on consultants to get a report on the feasibility of merging governments. He reports the figure was more like $25,000.

Consultants could have cost more, but the chairman of the countywide panel on economic and community development rightly replied that times are tough and consultants will work for less.

Still, the subject of conversation was how to decide whether consolidation of government services would save money.

Everybody seems to want more information. Nobody wants to take a stand on something they don't fully understand.

Who would?

So, here's where many hands make light work on this subject when - obviously - we're not building a barn, shucking corn, or other such projects.

Delegation is one of the early lessons of management.

Maybe that's what the county commission chairman was trying to do when he asked another commissioner and the county mayor to canvass municipalities for their views.

The Chamber of Commerce chairman's question on Tuesday morning was important. How much debt do the governments' carry? Nobody knew exactly, but it's not hard to find out. Could the mayors ask their managers to send an e-mail to the chamber chairman?

Other questions will arise and delegation to many hands may still work.

There's another reaction to the idea of consolidation: The identity of some communities will be lost.

I don't know. Residents of Berlin and Belfast have strong allegiance to their territory and there's no borderline, but even so, there are a number of other areas where consolidation might work.

Utilities have been mentioned. This one is complicated. They have charters separate from their municipalities. Still there is a Consolidated Utility District in Rutherford County and the Bedford County Utilities (plural) District maintains its original political service areas when ratepayers elect its board.

Consolidation of 9-1-1 emergency dispatching has been under consideration; even to the point of a panel asking for land to build a central dispatch building.

People have asked if two general sessions courts are needed in this county. The question usually comes from lawyers who insist on anonymity because they are loath to offend one of the judges.

Countywide planning was suggested when the state service was found lacking. It no longer exists because the state budget was cut.

A Tribune reader asked me on Monday to write more about how the economy could be improved. How many panels in this county are focused on economic and community development? They're cooperating. Suppose they were in one office?

Many hands make light work when they're working together.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.