More than 16 years ago, one Georgia county voted to merge with the city.
Augusta-Richmond County's consolidated government looks much like the plan voters in Macon and Bibb County will take up later this year.
"We saved money. We streamlined the activities. We got accomplished results from it," said Chief Deputy Sid Hatfield with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
At the stroke of midnight in January first, he said their staff grew from about 400 people to more than 700.
"We had to redraw precincts. We had to redraw the number of people in a precinct. We had to reorganize, restructure the precinct," he says.
According to the legislation, all budgets approved for fiscal year 1996 rolled over to the new government. So the police department and sheriff's offices budgets combined just as they would with a Macon-Bibb consolidation.
Here's how the two compare according to records from their finance departments.
In 1995, the combined budgets of the Macon Police Department and Bibb Sheriff's Office totaled about $25.5 million. This year if you combined their budgets, you'd get about $49.5 million.
The year before they consolidated, in 1995, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and the Augusta Police Departments combined budget was $21.2 million.Now they're up to a nearly $57 million budget for operations.
So, since consolidation, the Richmond County Sheriff's office budget has grown at a faster rate, 168 percent, than the separate Macon Police and Bibb Sheriff's budgets, which is 92 percent higher.
The finance director for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office said their budget grew because of grants, hiring and salary increases and increased costs for things like gasoline or healthcare.
Even though the budget went up, Hatfield said they're still saving in the long run due to the merger.
"Where in the past the city government may have been buying something different than we were or we than they were, but law enforcement is all under the same umbrella if you will and we buy one item for one man and for one woman and it works real well," he said.
But he said it took some time to work out all the details.
"Considering everything. Equipment, personnel, file folders anything and everything probably about 12 to 18 months," he said.
Time well spent, Hatfield said, to ensure the highest level of law enforcement for people living in the county.
"Once we knew the people had chosen and had voted for this, it was our job to put it in effect and making it work."
The Macon-Bibb consolidation vote is set for July 31.