© December 21, 2011
Efficiency and cost-cutting are always watchwords during a recession, but they should be the goal even in the best of times. So should something else: cooperation.
Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake announced this month that they would work with leaders from the largest local businesses to find ways to save money by collaborating. They expect to turn up a dozen or so services that can be made better and cheaper by combining municipal efforts.
The initiative is under the umbrella of the Hampton Roads Partnership, a local coalition of government, business and academics. The study runs through March.
|SEE: Hampton Roads CEOs team up with three cities to explore pilot shared services project|
Regional cooperation is certainly not a new idea, but it remains a good one.
The group can almost certainly find economies of scale -those three cities serve more than 880,000 people. That negotiating leverage will only increase if the other cities of Hampton Roads are included.
Virginia Beach Councilman Glenn Davis suggested fuel and Internet services could present opportunities to save. Expect to hear about combining services – like police dispatch or library administration – and joint purchases of supplies and equipment.
The focus on efficiency and savings may finally encourage cities to do what they should’ve been doing for years – working together to solve the problems that affect everyone who lives here.
Regional cooperation has been a goal of local leaders since the first land grants by the king. “Hampton Roads” exists as a region to encourage cooperation among its municipalities. Most recently, the cities announced plans to work together to create a “road map” to economic prosperity.
Two city-based philanthropic groups have merged to form a powerhouse regional partnership: the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. Last year Gov. Bob McDonnell created a panel to find ways to help city and state governments work together more effectively.
Hampton Roads’ history is littered with reports on regional cooperation. If the pilot program produces only another, it will add to inefficiency rather than eradicate it.
The key – as it always has been – is following through. The recession and its lingering effects provide every reason to do so.