NOACA's [Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency] governing board today announced it has awarded the county a $34,100 “regional benefit account grant” to support a study examining the merits of merging the city of Pepper Pike, Orange Village, the Village of Moreland Hills and the Village of Woodmere.While the emphasis appears to be on merging services, not one city and three villages into a single entity, that total merger idea is not ruled out:
This study “will analyze how safety forces, financial systems and services could be successfully merged, and the cost and regional benefits resulting from the merger,” NOACA said. The Cuyahoga Planning Commission will conduct the study; NOACA said its financial assistance will be used primarily for supplemental consultant work.
Regardless of whether the study leads to a merger of the communities, [NOACA Executive Director, Howard R. Maier] said, the study “will identify potential areas of cost savings, collaboration, and shared services” and will “serve as a model for other communities across the region that might also contemplate a merger.”If I could ask one thing of NOACA, it would be that, in their position as a funder of this study, could they please be sure to ask and have answered how the study that they are funding will differ from and hopefully be more actionable than the Baldwin-Wallace study turned out to be.
Why would I love for NOACA to be sure they ask and have answered that question? Because the BW study cost $30,000-$40,000 and, to the best of my knowledge, none of it has led to any cost savings, collaboration or shared services between the four communities that paid for it. (If that is incorrect, please leave the corrections in the comments or email me. From the Pepper Pike end, to the best of my knowledge, I'm pretty sure nothing from the BW study has been implemented.)
Finally, as a member of Pepper Pike City Council, I want to express appreciation to the NOACA governing board for making this investment. You can read who is on the governing board here and the staff here. Although transportation and environment clearly is an important part of NOACA's mission, sustainable communities is another one and from that, I suspect, derives their interest in the merger study.
NB: Approval of conducting the BW study, then conduct of the study, and conclusion of the study pre-dates when I was sworn in, January 2010. However, from January through late March 2010, when the mayor sent us an electronic copy of the report, we were told a few times that a draft existed and that those who had been involved were reviewing it and tweaking it - and criticizing it, to be frank. I just browsed last year's minutes refreshing and confirming these recollections. You can do the same too if you like.