Services: Consolidation effort could relieve taxpayers

Earlier this year, state senators had hoped to offer municipal, county and school officials financial incentives to join forces in providing some local public services. A bill to that effect was approved 32-0 in the Senate.

It died in the House of Delegates, no doubt after turf-conscious local officials protested.

But some cooperative efforts, referred to a few years ago as “metro government,” make sense. For example, could public safety be enhanced and taxpayers’ dollars be saved by combining municipal and county law enforcement agencies in some parts of the state? Perhaps so.

Fortunately, lawmakers more concerned about taxpayers than preserving local officials’ jobs had a fallback position. It was House of Delegates Concurrent Resolution 86, which was adopted.

HR 86 calls for a study of government consolidation, presumably including information on how it can save money. Spending less of what taxpayers send their way should be only part of the concern. Those conducting the study will presumably be looking as well at how to best serve the people of West Virginia.

Even if “metro government” is a taboo phrase for some, perhaps seeing potential savings will persuade taxpayers to push for a cooperative effort where doing so will eliminate the duplication of work (and spending of taxpayer dollars) and improve services to the public.