It may sound like a long time, but 20 years can come and go in a flash when it comes to planning for the future.
That's why Athens-based consulting firm Chasman & Associates was hired earlier this year to study how McDuffie County and Thomson should plan their spending.
It's a step most counties the size of McDuffie don't take. But according to Robin Chasman, who is heading up the study, it is one that could make a huge difference in efficiency.
"We've undertaken a program that we call the capital improvements program to try to identify, the best we can, the capital needs on out into the future and try to prioritize them and try to establish some policies and procedures on how to deal with capital," he said.
Mr. Chasman said the program was "In other words improving their processes and trying to do longer-term planning to make sure that they're not surprised and that they try to match their resources with the highest priority capital."
Thomson and McDuffie County hired Mr. Chasman's firm for up to $40,000 to conduct the study. It will determine what pricier, big-ticket items like vehicles and buildings may arise in the next 20 years.
"We're trying to keep it just as big as we can," said County Manager Don Norton. "Then if it is overwhelmingly large, you can always kind of compress it a little bit. But we didn't want to be too confined in our thinking. We wanted people to get highly creative and think as long-term and as bold as they could."
So far, Mr. Chasman has begun analyzing information from meetings with city and county department heads. According to Mr. Norton, the study is going extremely well.
"Several of the folks that he has talked with seemed to be encouraged by the process and feel good about it, and I think he certainly does," Mr. Norton said.
Mr. Chasman had an informal discussion with McDuffie County Commissioners last Tuesday night to get their feelings on what should be included in the study. He used the time to find out what the priorities of the elected officials were.
"How do you compare the priorities of regulatory mandates with other kinds of needs?" Mr. Chasman gave as an example of what kinds of questions were answered by commissioners.
Now that he has met with the governmental bodies, Mr. Chasman will take the information back to Mr. Norton and City Administrator Bob Flanders to consider what direction to take.
"Certainly, this is not the final product. This is I guess the first step toward a final product," Mr. Norton said.
A preliminary draft of the findings will be presented to city and county leaders at their retreat this coming January. Mr. Chasman said feedback from the retreat will help him finalize the results.