Macon Mayor Robert Reichert has two and a half months to get ready for the new consolidated government.
Reichert says he wants to sit down with the nine new commissioners several times over the next few months to figure out the nuts and bolts of the new government.
Once they take office, they'll only have six months to prepare their first budget and find ways to shave off the mandated 20% over the next four years.
Reichert says he hopes attrition will make up for the bulk of it and finding more efficient ways to function will fill in the rest. He says layoffs will be his last resort.
He says, "When we combine these two governments, instead of buying 100 sheets of paper, we'll be buying 200 sheets of paper, and volume discounts. So we'll look for ways to do that. We'll look for ways to use technology, to work smarter rather than harder and try to save money. In fact, we're spending money on the front end to buy new computer software that should make us more efficient, less clerical time, less work, less this that or the other. It's all going to be automated and state of the art. So we'll be looking for things like that to make us more efficient, more effective, but most of all, more equitably financed so all of us in Bibb County, all of us in this boat together, pay our fair share and the same rate."
The budget is a top priority for the new government, but Reichert says he also wants to find and create new programs to deal with some of the issues that have been plaguing the community for several decades.
"We've got to do something about poverty and lifting people up, bringing in jobs and economic development, give people the opportunity to go to work and make a decent living and support their family, which is what the vast majority of folks want to do given the opportunity. We've got to make neighborhoods safer, steer young people away from gangs and drugs and violence and shooting it up on Saturday nights," says Reichert.
And with everything they're trying to do, Reichert says there is likely to be a few bumps in the road, and he wants to encourage people to help them rather than criticize.
"Yes there's going to be bumps in the road, but we need to be honest about that and admit that up front," he says. "This is a big puzzle, and we're putting all of the pieces together, and it's going to be trial and error in some things. So work with us, keep your eyes focused on the big picture."
Reichert says to avoid some of the turbulence next year, he wants to plan a retreat for the commissioners and invite members from other consolidated governments to give them advice.
He and the rest of the commission will be sworn in December 31st. Reichert says he hopes the group will also adopt the first code of ordinances that day.