AMHERST – Amherst has agreed to work with the Municipality of Cumberland to pursue areas where the two municipal units can share services.
“Among the items identified as priorities as council in December was the pursuit of shared services partnerships. In the environment in which municipal governments operate today, it is expected that opportunities for service provision partnerships should be fully explored,” Coun. Robert Bird told member of town council at its January meeting. “These partnerships should be pursued to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness.”
Bird said these partnerships must add value to municipal customers and building capacity to improve services.
The guiding principals agreed to by Amherst on Monday, and by the county last week, serve to remove perceived threats to all stakeholders so there will be buy-in at all levels.
They also ensure both councils will not become bogged down in minutia, leaving the details to the CAOs and empowering and directing them to bring forward workable, long-term partnership proposals for approval.
Bird said the discussions will not result in annexation by either municipality, or amalgamation of the two units.
Also, any staff-related savings that can be identified through service sharing will be achieved through attrition and or reassignment and reallocation of staff resources.
“No current staff member will have their employment terminated as a result of a shared service partnership initiative,” Bird said.
Under the agreement, all potential partnerships will be explored at the senior staff level and must be approved by both CAOs before coming before each council for final approval.
“This is a good move,” Deputy Mayor George Baker said. “This may or may not result in more shared services, but it’s good to look at the options. It also shows that we are trying to work together.”
Coun. Frank Balcom said the agreement could be a win-win situation for both municipalities and their taxpayers, especially if it leads to the sharing of services and the elimination of duplication.