Amherst, Cumberland County moving closer to one corporate services department
A consultant has endorsed a plan to merge Amherst's and Cumberland County's finance departments.
A consultant has endorsed a plan to merge Amherst's and Cumberland County's finance departments. Amherst passed a motion Monday to move forward to the next step of implementation.
AMHERST – A plan to merge Amherst’s corporate services operations with the Municipality of Cumberland has taken another step forward.
Amherst town council has accepted a report from consultants Pat Hartling and Cheryl Newcombe of SPL Development Services Inc. that endorses the plan to create a common accounting and financial reporting unit that will be shared by both municipal units.
“The next step is for the CAOs to provide a project plan for implementation and bring back to each council for consideration so we can approve it and move forward,” Amherst Mayor Robert Small said after council’s regular March session on Monday. “We’ve had staff input and the feedback has been very positive. The changes are being accepted because they know it’s for the better of both municipalities.”
The town and the county hired SPL Development Services in December to undertake an analysis of the existing finance departments with the view of creating a merged financial reporting unit.
The consultants issued their report to Amherst council saying the proposed model is feasible and will deliver benefits that are unobtainable for each organization working alone.
“You’ll see over the course of the year a number of changes as we move toward having one shared finance department between us and the county,” the mayor said.
The consultants’ recommendation is for both councils to accept the shared services report and undertake the subsequent actions to establish a shared finance unit and that both councils receive periodic updates from their CAOs.
Under Amherst’s motion, CAO Greg Herrett is authorized to create an agreement and project plan with the county, as well as an agreement with the province for the conversion project and that he be authorized to assign staff to an organization chart that will establish the shared department.
The town and the county agreed last September to explore the cost, benefits and potential design of a combined finance department.
The entire plan is expected to cost up to $100,000, with $15,000 to $20,000 being used for consultants’ work, with the remainder being transition costs, software and hardware upgrades, data migration and training.