ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell is wrestling over whether it should spend money to see whether it can save money.

Not right now, it appears.

At its July 22 meeting, the City Council voted 4-1 to defer spending $100,000 for a citywide study to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of its government operations. The idea behind the independent study would be to examine the city’s administration to identify areas where it could improve efficiency and reduce waste.

The study, first proposed in 2019, would be a first for the city, said Deputy City Administrator Michael Fischer. Based on a bidding process, the city has already identified Plante and Moran as the firm that would conduct the evaluation.

The study would be conducted in three phases:

• Phase 1 would conduct an organizational review to compare the City of Roswell with neighboring cities to identify staffing levels and workload

• Phase 2 would conduct an operational review to observe and gauge the organizational culture

• Phase 3 would create a project report with observations and opportunities for improvement 

City staff expect the study would take three to four months.

City Councilwoman Marie Willsey, who cast the lone vote to proceed with the study now, said the city is one of the largest employers in Roswell with about 1,100 full and part time staff. 

But, Councilman Marcelo Zapata said he preferred the city ask department heads to conduct their own studies, saving the cost of a consultant. He also said he did not understand the benefit of comparing Roswell to other cities that have different cultures and organization. 

Councilman Mike Palermo said he would rather see more discussion from the city and public before pulling the trigger on a $100,000 study. He said a committee meeting could help narrow the focus of the study and provide more depth.

“The last thing I’d want to do is pay for a study with a goal of having an outcome saying we need to hire more administrative staff,” he said. “I’d much rather be spending to get more of our roads repaved, to have more events like Roswell Moves! and save taxpayer money.”

Councilman Matthew Tyser said he saw the study as an opportunity to evaluate whether the city has the right kind of staff instead of looking at the number of employees. 

He added an independent study would be more credible and might give the city an opportunity to look at options it might not have considered otherwise.

Tyser agreed with Palermo that he’d want city staff to first discuss what they want to see from the study and clarify what it would be expected to deliver.

Mayor Lori Henry agreed further discussion was called for.  

Willsey pointed out that the study was already brought up in a committee meeting and that the mayor and City Council had opportunities to ask questions then. 

The item has been scheduled for further consideration at the Aug. 12 council meeting to allow time to discuss the goals of the study and lower the cost.

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