Richard D. L. Fulton
(9/16) Shrinking budgets, less bang for the municipal buck, and collective interests have inspired at least one local mayor to consider testing the regional waters for interest in establishing more cost-sharing, inter-municipal agreements.
Carroll Valley Mayor Ronald J. Harris was granted approval at the council meeting September 13 to continue with his proposed survey of adjacent and other nearby municipalities to determine if there might be interest in regionalizing resources over and above any agreements that may already exist.
Existing examples of resource and bargaining-sharing include inter-municipal police arrangements, joint recreation plans, and multiple municipality purchasing of road maintenance supplies, such as collectively buying roadway repair materials and supplies needed to address winter snow removal.
In particular, Harris said he would like to perform a survey especially among the boroughs of Carroll Valley and Fairfield, and the townships of Hamiltonban, Freedom, Liberty and Highland.
He suggested that some of the categories that could be subject to regionalization might include fire `and emergency medical services, road maintenance, snow removal, fuel services, police services, recreational resources, zoning and building inspections.
These are some of the common concerns (among municipalities), he said, "I see over a period of time. Is there a way to improve (service) quality or reduce the costs (through regionalization)?"
"I want to make up a little table of potential resource categories and approach the (area) municipalities and mark those the municipalities are interested in," Harris said. "We’re all hurting for money. Sharing might be the way to deal with it."
"If it looks (via the survey) there is interest in a particular (resource) area," he said, "then we would have a meeting" with the interested municipalities.
Storm damage this year plunged Carroll Valley into the red when they failed to be reimbursed through state and federal funding sources for damage repairs executed by the borough. As part of dealing with the death blow to their 2011 budget, the council approved more cuts to the budget in the amount of some $133,000 at the September 13 meeting.
The regionalization plan the mayor is proposing to explore would involve a handful of municipalities in the borough’s immediate area, and would not be duplicative of the work of the Adams County Council of Governments (COG), which deals with resource sharing county-wide.
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