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Four East Side Suburbs Talking Less About Merger, More About Sharing Services

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Four east side suburbs in Cuyahoga County have been considering for years now whether to merge, as a way to save money. But some of the mayors involved say the idea of a full merger doesn’t have very much public support right now, so they’re talking about other options. ideastream’s Nick Castele has more.

Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm

In 2011, the mayors of Woodmere, Pepper Pike, Orange Village and Moreland Hills said they’d consider combining into one suburb to save tax dollars on city services.

But the idea has proven unpopular in some parts.

Moreland Hills Mayor Susan Renda says many residents want to keep the bond they have with police officers and elected officials.

“People become attached to their government," she said. "They know each councilperson. They know their mayor. And they move to a small village because they wanted that close association with their government.”

Pepper Pike Mayor Richard Bain says that while campaigning for his position, he met numerous voters who opposed the idea of merging. He says the mayors and the county are now weighing the best way to move forward.

The goal, he says, is "not to merge for the sake of merging," but for cities to deliver services in less expensive ways. "That's the challenge that the communities face. Sustainability."

Ed Jerse, the Cuyahoga County director of regional collaboration, says they’re now talking more about sharing services -- like building services and emergency response.

“If you lead with merger you’re going to build up counterproductive opposition," he said, "and that it’s a much easier path to look at shared services first, implement those, and then look at merger down the road.”

But Orange Mayor Kathy Mulcahy says she’s hopeful voters and elected officials will still give the idea of a merger some thought.

“I am still hopeful we’re going to evaluate what merger means in terms of financial savings to the community and consequently to each resident. And be able to make an informed decision," she said.

Jerse says the state and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency are paying for a study to look into the savings of sharing services and of a merger. It’s due this fall.

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