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Economy and Business

Cost of local government: $20 billion
New report says local governments should collaborate on services

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:

Northeast Ohio's local government spending has been growing 70 times faster than its population, according to a new report.  WKSU's Kabir Bhatia has more on one group’s suggestion to shrink government and the dollars that go with it…

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The Fund for Our Economic Future commissioned the report, which compares population growth, economic output and inflation. The Fund has long been promoting collaboration among local governments, and its president, Brad Whitehead, says the region can no longer afford the 20 billion dollars it costs to run 868 government entities.

“(WHITEHEAD)…Every dollar we spend on redundancy is a dollar we’re not spending on education or innovation.  A good example would be, if we can get greater collaboration among fire districts, perhaps we don’t have to spend as much on capital equipment…”

The report recommends incentives to local governments to combine emergency services or road crews among municipalities.  And according to the report, at least 79 percent of those surveyed support the moves.

"(WHITEHEAD)...You could even argue that the public is demanding to see more collaboration between their governments, because the system as it's set up now isn't sustainable..."

Whitehead's group has provided grants for projects ranging from a land bank in Mahoning County to an updated computer system for Stark County's 9-1-1 system.  But some collaborations have stalled. A move to establish a single emergency dispatch center in Stark County was halted this week, when Canton and the Stark County sheriff pulled out.   Whitehead says that demonstrates the challenges.

"(WHITEHEAD)...It's not necessarily easy to do, because of all the little things that can often get in the way of good intentions.  Whether that's because computer systems don't talk to each other, technologies are slightly different and so forth.  Now, ultimately, all of these things are solvable, but no one said it was going to be easy..."

The House version of Ohio’s two-year state budget includes 100 million dollars in incentive grants to help local governments consolidate and collaborate.

Related Links & Resources
View the report, "Opportunity Abounds"

Listener Comments:

How many lawsuits has Sheriff Swanson caused the county by the abuses at his jail?

Here's a link to at least a half dozen:

Sheriff Swanson named in lawsuits A. Swanson

Posted by: John on May 27, 2011 2:05AM
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