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Merging Four East Side Suburbs Would Save Money, But So Would Sharing Services, Study Finds

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 9:34 AM

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Source: Cuyahoga County Planning Commission

Residents of four east-side suburbs in Cuyahoga County will meet tonight to discuss proposals to share services -- or even merge their towns into one. But ideastream's Nick Castele reports officials have been edging away from the merger plan, and now a consulting study also suggests pursuing other options might also save money. The meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at Orange High School.

For a couple years now, the communities of Woodmere, Pepper Pike, Moreland Hills and Orange have been talking about combining, as a way to cut down on the cost of services.

But some residents didn’t like the idea of giving up the town they called home for a new, less familiar arrangement.

And a draft study of the communities’ options found a merger might not save that much money after all.

Cuyahoga County Director of Regional Collaboration Ed Jerse says one reason is that not all comparable employees across the four towns are paid the same. A merger could mean increasing salaries for some workers—or making some part-time employees full-time.

“That leads to the conclusion that merging them won’t necessarily give you dramatically great savings,” Jerse said. “It will give you some savings, potentially, but those savings, as the study shows, can also be obtained by sharing services.”

The study offers numerous examples, such as setting up a joint building department or sharing some police and fire duties.

“Planning together on capital equipment purchases, so you don’t have four communities all buying a new fire truck,” Jerse said. “Overnight patrols could be realigned so that you have a more efficient use in the evening when there’s not a lot of police calls.”

But Jerse said there’s no set timeline for inking shared services deals. So don’t expect these cities to rush out and buy a fire truck together quite yet. 

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