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Shared services, singular results

MUCH HAS BEEN said about the cost savings associated with regionalization, but precious little has been done in Luzerne County.

That’s why we were delighted – and you should be, too – to learn that two new budding alliances were unveiled last week:

• Bear Creek Township is undertaking a project with the Community Charter School to develop recreational fields off state Route 115 that will serve students during school functions and provide recreational facilities for township residents during non-school hours. The acquisition of acreage also will permit school officials to replace an aging building with a new structure for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

• Pittston is in the early stages of exploring cooperative projects with neighboring Laflin that might lead to joint municipal services. The small city already has experience with cost-sharing and the savings it brings through its partnership with Hughestown on garbage collection.

Noted Pittston Councilman Michael Lombardo: “It’s irresponsible not to investigate.” He and other council members also promised city department leaders will be part of the discussion.

Bravo! He and his fellow council members get it.

Local governments, especially during a stubborn recession, must do all they can to consolidate services. Many property owners already are struggling to pay taxes, and there’s not much wiggle room for service reduction.

The answer, then, lies in being more efficient and tailoring approaches to meet the needs of the times.

Municipal boundaries were drawn in simpler times along arbitrary lines when there was less need for services. Today’s times require services – police protection, trash pickup, road maintenance, etc. – and now there’s innovative ways to deliver them.

Is there economic justification for Edwardsville, Kingston, Forty Fort and Exeter each having its own police department? Why aren’t there more joint ventures in the Back Mountain? Can’t Nanticoke and neighboring townships work together more often?

Pennsylvania, a promoter of regionalization, offers expertise on forming partnerships, most notably for police services, which tend to be costly operations. Its Regional Assistance Grant Program offers grants of up to $99,000 for a period of three years through its Center for Local Government Services (1-800-223-6837).

We applaud Pittston, Laflin and the Bear Creek Township community for their open-minded leadership and encourage other public entities to follow suit.

Pennsylvania, a promoter of

regionalization, offers expertise on forming

partnerships, most notably for police services, which tend to be costly

operations.

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