Services: SB 117 offers options without requirement

West Virginia legislators are considering a bill that could provide incentives for municipal and county governments to cooperate in providing some services. It is Senate Bill 117, already adopted by that body.

Some municiapal and county officials across the state do not like the bill. Anything that hints at city-county consolidation is on their radar screens to be shot down immediately.

But SB 117 does not require consolidation. It would provide only some financial incentives for municipalities and counties to offer services jointly instead of individually — and sometimes, in an overlapping manner.

For example, under the measure, counties who consolidate would become eligible for a 10 percent discount in their monthly regional jail bill for a period of 10 years following the consolidation; and cities and counties that consolidate also would get preference for any road construction or repair project under consideration with the Division of Highways under the bill.

The choice would remain up to county commissioners and municipal councils.

What’s wrong with that?

Nothing.

In fact, government officials at all levels should get over their fear of even consolidation (not just in this case, but in the case of our school systems, too). Those who shouted loudest about right-sizing government when trying to get elected seem to be the quickest to chicken out when necessary consolidations and collaborations are proposed.

House of Delegates members should approve SB 117.

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