By Tia Lynn Lecorchick managing editor
Madison leadership and the County Commissioners were set to meet Wednesday, Nov. 12 to discuss the county’s push to split the joint building inspection, but that meeting was canceled due to an agreement negotiated between Mayor Fred Perriman and Commissioner Andy Ainslie to delay the decision until July 1, 2015. Perriman announced to the council at the monthly work session on Monday, Nov. 10 that his tentative agreement with Ainslie, who consulted and garnered the approval of the other commissioners, would stand if the council voted to approve it as well. “I made a suggestion to him. I asked him to talk to his commissioners. My suggestion to him was to cancel the meeting this week and give the city time to get through the rest of the fiscal year,” explained Perriman. “This would certainly give our finance committee and budget committee time to work through this ordeal and hopefully to create a better relationship with our county. It’s not to say we will part ways in July, but it will give us some time to work together as a group,” said Perriman. “The council members appreciate all that the commissioners do for our community,” added Perriman. Perriman’s main objective in this agreement is to foster a more united and conciliatory relationship with county government. “I say this often, but we are One Morgan. We have businesses that want to locate to our community. We certainly want new businesses to come here and it’s in everybody’s best interest to work all of this out together,” added Perriman. The council voted unanimously to approve the delay. The council has not yet calculated how much it will cost to conduct its own building inspection, if the split does occur. However, Councilman Bobby Crawford, admitted that a split would indeed cost the city money. “If we split, it will be costly. We know that much,” said Crawford. “We represent the people and they pay the taxes, so we have to find a good way to do this economically. If this split is happening just because we don’t get along, we got to figure out a way to get along. Any time we do anything where it costs the tax payer money, we got a problem we need solve.” Crawford was hopeful that the extra time would allow the county and city to work to better communicate their differences and work through them, for “the sake of the tax payers.” The council had no comment as to what the issues between the city and county are that need to be worked out in order to preserve the joint building inspection. According to County Manager Michael Lamar, the main issue is that the joint building inspection requires too much county staff time and results with a negative public perception of the county being “unfriendly to business” because of the extra steps and time involved with the city’s historic and corridor districts. “The public starts to feel that it’s overkill,” said Lamar. “What I believe is that most private sector customers appreciate a one-stop shop for this kind of thing. By the very nature of having two local government entities involved it just complicates the process…You create the perception of bureaucracy, real or perceived, it’s sort of irrelevant and moot. If the perception becomes that you’re bureaucratic in your processes, then you’re not friendly to business.” “It’s not a blame game, it’s just the nature of what’s been created. We’ve already predisposed some people to think that this is convoluted and inefficient,” said Lamar. “The goal should start with what is most effective and efficient.” Lamar was open to working with the city to find ways to make a joint building inspection more efficient, but said he has not heard a solution that would work yet. “Are there ways we can streamline the process to the public? If there are ways, let’s do it, but if not, then this has evolved into something that is difficult for people and we need to go our separate ways,” said Lamar. “This way the right entity will get both the credit and the blame for the process. Right now, the county is handling all the processing and paper trail and when there is public frustration, or public praise, it lands with us.” However, the city claims problems with effectiveness or efficiency have not been clearly communicated to them. “We’ve always done it this way and it always has seemed to work. So we just want to know exactly why all of a sudden there is a need to split,” said Chris Hodges, city councilwoman. The city intends to find out, noting that while there is no future meeting yet scheduled with the county, the city does intend to meet with the county to discuss the matter further and explore all the options before a decision is rendered in July. Perriman was pleased with the extra time allotted to the city to either find a solution or prepare for the split. “This is great for our city,” said Perriman.