All of us probably learned at a very young age about the importance of sharing. Little did we know at the time that the lesson could also be relevant to government when it comes to reducing costs.

The idea of sharing, or consolidating, government services has received increased attention of late, and not only in Ohio. As government looks for ways to balance budgets and manage expenditures, officials have begun reevaluating what each department and agency does and finding other options. State government has been involved in consolidation and cost reduction.

The greater the number of departments working independently of one another, the more possibility there is for redundancy and overlap, which increases costs without necessarily improving services. All levels of government should be committed to the best services available at the lowest possible price because, after all, it is the taxpayers who are paying the bills.

A study published by the Buckeye Institute in February pointed out that Ohio has 46 percent more local government bodies per county than the national average. That is 46 percent more government that requires taxpayer funding, and therefore everyone has an interest in keeping costs low. In Miami and Darke counties, officials are cooperating in many ways to provide quality services and to reduce costs.

Legislation recently passed the Ohio House that addresses this concern and encourages local governments throughout the state to look at consolidating public services where it is feasible. House Bill 509 provides local governments with additional flexibility for managing costs, such as allowing local departments to consolidate, allowing health departments to go outside their traditional borders and to share or contract staff. Similarly, the bill also allows county auditors to provide services in other fiscal offices throughout the county.

HB 509 does not mandate that counties make such changes, but rather gives them the opportunity to do so if it is deemed a viable option. Previously, there were unnecessary roadblocks in place that made it difficult for government departments to work closely together. Last year’s biennial budget established the beginning of cooperation through the Local Government Innovation Fund, and House Bill 509 provides some additional steps needed to make even more progress in providing services and saving taxpayer money.


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