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Ashcraft makes pitch for countywide purchasing

by Troy Graham


Clarksburg City Manager Percy Ashcraft wants to apply the Wal-Mart school of economics to purchasing by joining with area governments to buy supplies in bulk.

Ashcraft wants to meet with representatives from Bridgeport, the Harrison County Commission and the Clarksburg Water Board to hammer out a way they can buy the supplies that they have in common in large quantities.

"Just from my discussions with our finance director, Frank Ferrari, I know there are common purchasing items," he said. "It's a little self-serving. If Clarksburg can save some money then we definitely want to participate."

Officials at the other governments agreed. Bridgeport City Manager Harold Weiler said the two cities could buy everything from "tons of asphalt to dozens of pencils" together.

"It's one of those things that on the surface sounds like a good idea," he said. "The more you buy the cheaper it should be."

If the plan works, it could be the beginning of a more regional approach to government, Ashcraft said. It could also be a way of creating a working relationship that has not always existed between the governments.

"I think we need to be closer," Ashcraft said. "A lot of the time we're in competition."

The plan could later be extended to other cities, such as Shinnston and Salem, he said.

Ashcraft said he took the idea for centralized purchasing from the Regional Education Services Agency, which coordinates purchasing for school boards across the state.

"RESA saves school boards a lot of money," he said.

The local governments most likely would not create an outside agency to do the purchasing, Ashcraft said.

"Somebody would have to step up and coordinate it," he said. "I don't want to create a RESA per se."

Similar arrangements are used in law enforcement, especially with task forces. The Harrison County Drug Task Force operates from a shared grant, Ashcraft said. The local governments could also seek shared grants, he said.

"There really isn't a limit to it," Ashcraft said.