As time progresses, it seems rather obvious that local government has become somewhat more copious with its views of how society should move forward. This open-mindedness is foreshadowing significant changes on the horizon. Now we are not going to get into a political discussion on liberal versus conservative or what the latest generation is doing to change the system. We are talking about how things we learned as kids may help us plan for the changes to how we govern.
When searching for that match that you hoped would last a lifetime, you had to test the waters. It was quite common to dip your toe in the lake and decide if things felt just right before jumping in headfirst. Sometimes it seemed that there was no need for hesitation and you were ready to take the plunge, sometimes, it took a while before you warmed up.
Certainly talk of consolidation will elicit a strong response from many. You don't even have to read the local newspaper or township minutes to know that some will love the idea and others will hate it. But the truth is, at some point, consolidation on some level may be necessary.
Merger and consolidation is actually a marriage of shorts, just in a government kind of way. But before you take the plunge, or even give it serious thought, have you even dated before you considered getting married? Let’s examine that notion for just a moment.
Like any good relationship, you have to see if you can get along before diving into a long-term relationship. Perhaps looking at combining some resources and/or services might be an excellent first step to gauge what a more permanent situation may look like. A simple exercise in road maintenance could be a great starting point. Can we share bidding of materials or perhaps larger road projects like tar and chip or paving? Having various departments work together to make improvements or solve ongoing problems may be a good start. Sewer and water departments can always exchange knowledge and technology to make the job just a little easier.
The opportunities for collaboration are many. Municipalities are already sharing police, fire, purchasing and stormwater services. And they all started somewhere. Simply put, if you can’t work well together on these seemingly smaller exchanges, moving on to larger ones may not be in the best interest of all those concerned.
The truth is, that by exploring ways to work together, both sides may find substantial savings. Both sides may gain efficiencies and improve services, and you may find that a long term, long distance relationship is just fine.
Listen to your parents when they say it is best to date before you marry. “Fire this thing up” because there may be a government matrimonial event in your future.
About the Author
David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 32 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.