AMHERST – While Cumberland County’s two largest municipal units sometime find themselves at loggerheads, they are working to share as many services as possible.
Amherst Mayor Robert Small and Cumberland County Deputy Warden Gerald Read have signed an operating agreement that will see the two municipal units share the services and costs of a new created procurement co-ordinator position.
“This is a big starting point for us in that we can work together on purchasing things from office supplies to vehicles,” Small said. “It will also result in consistency when we put out tenders and requests for proposals.”
Amherst created the new position to address the responsibilities resulting from the newly enacted Public Procurement Act of Nova Scotia. The agreement will see the town and county sharing the service and the cost of the position, enabling both municipalities to meet the new requirements under the legislation.
“This is something we have been thinking about since 2000. The last time I was on council we were thinking wouldn’t it be great to have someone focused on procurement who could get the best bang for our buck,” Small said. “This is going from wouldn’t it be great to actually having someone in place.”
The mayor said the agreement could result in a significant saving for both the town and the county as they move forward with big purchases and small.
Read said the agreement makes sense for both municipalities and should see savings for taxpayers in Amherst and the county.
“It’s also a perfect example of the two municipalites working together,” Read said.
County CAO Rennie Bugley said procurement is something that has been part of the responsibilities of several employees. He said the new legislation makes the task more focused.
“Instead of several people doing it there will be one expert staff resource who will co-ordinate purchases and tenders for both of us,” Bugley said.
It’s expected that in addition to the cost sharing of the service, the two units will be able to realize savings through economies of scale, standing offers and co-ordination of procurement activities.
The co-ordinator, Julie Rushton, will remain an employee of the town. It’s expected she will spend, on average, one day per week working at the county office in Upper Nappan. The county will reimburse the town 20 per cent of the expenses incurred to her employment – including wages, benefits and training.