The mayors of Moreland Hills, Orange Village, and Pepper Pike recently joined three of their council colleagues to form a working group to explore consolidation and a new shared identity with the goal of increasing efficiencies while maintaining or improving safety and other service levels within high quality neighborhoods.The goal of the project is: "To achieve coordinated and consolidated safety and other services and gauge public support for and evaluate benefits and costs of a potential municipal merger of Orange Village, Moreland Hills, and Pepper Pike." The partners have until 5pm on April 19, 2010 to submit their full proposal.
The group previously partnered with Hunting Valley to commission a Baldwin Wallace study to determine the feasibility of greater service collaboration among the four communities. Preliminary results of the study suggest annual savings from coordinated and consolidated dispatch, police, fire, and services in the range of a minimum of $660,000 to well over $3,000,000.
In light of positive preliminary study findings, the working group now seeks EfficientGovNow assistance to move forward in implementing the study’s recommendations. Needs associated with implementation include legal and consulting expenses, transitional and contracting expenses, possible equipment purchases, communications and public information expenses, and refitting of existing equipment and facilities, among other miscellaneous costs.
I shared the abstract on Facebook on Tuesday (3/2/10) and a lively exchange ensued (for example, one person wants to know if we'd still need three mayors). Some City departments already function in regional ways (i.e., mutual aid agreements between fire departments), and I have a great (and continuing) interest in exploring a regional webmaster for a few of our communities. The dog park is another project that could benefit from a regional approach.
However, right now? I get concerned about 1) the psychology: people buy into a community having a certain personality - so the idea of literally merging our cities and villages is one that, for me, needs a whole lot of explaining, exploring and processing and 2) how Pepper Pike is in the midst of a financial situation that involves asking residents to balance their financial resources with their desire to preserve Pepper Pike's services the way they've come to enjoy them. As those who attend tonight's special meeting will hear, there is overlap in how these circumstances affect one another.
Also, the final Baldwin-Wallace study has yet to be released, I've not seen any version of it yet and it was underway before I came into office. So, understandably, I'm hesitant to agree or suggest that we seek to implement B-W recommendations before I actually know what those recommendations will be.
If you were doing the exploring, what would you want to know?