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Curbing Costs with Collaboration

Photo by RalphBijker
Flexibility has always been a key component to the successful operation of local government. As we all know, government operations can become very costly, so it is important that municipalities find the most efficient way to offer crucial public services. House Bill 509 will provide this flexibility by allowing local governments to collaborate with other municipalities to deliver shared services.
When the biennial state operating budget was passed in June 2011, it included a provision to create the Local Government Innovation Fund. With this program, the House took its first steps in consolidating services. Specifically, the fund administers grants and loans to municipalities to support their consolidation measures. House Bill 509 finalizes the effort to aid local governments in cost management. 
To meet this objective, the legislation contains several different provisions, each seeking to streamline operations and create greater collaboration between municipalities. For instance, the bill allows county auditors to share staff members with offices in other counties. Similarly, House Bill 509 authorizes these auditors to act as financial agents for other offices located in their own counties.
In the area of health care, the legislation permits local health departments to contract or share employees in ways that were previously restricted. We should not curb the options that these departments have to pool manpower, especially if it helps to drive down expenses. This is essentially what HB 509 is all about: finding flexible, commonsense solutions to deal with the high costs associated with public services.
A shining example of the success of service consolidation can be seen in Marion County, the first county in Ohio to implement this process. A recently published Buckeye Institute report revealed that Marion County has already saved $150,000 in one and a half years simply by integrating health departments. What’s more, this has been done without compromising the quality of services.
The same report also indicated that Ohio sits 46 percent above the national average in terms of local government entities per county. Quite simply, local governments use tax money to bankroll these bodies. Sharing services as Marion County has done will relieve taxpayers from an increasingly heavy burden.

This bill is the right solution to a growing challenge within Ohio’s local governments. It is completely within our reach to provide more flexibility to municipalities without sacrificing the caliber of services rendered. With House Bill 509, this concept can become a reality. 


Photo by ralphbijker