Governments unite, seek better efficiency, savings benefits
The city of Gahanna, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools and Jefferson and Mifflin townships are in the initial stages of examining ways to collaborate and be more efficient to ultimately save taxpayer dollars.
A second meeting is scheduled for this month, with leaders of the entities to continue discussion about shared services to save costs and increase efficiencies.
The city of Gahanna initiated the conversations at the request of council member Brian Larick, who's the chairman of council's finance, service and safety committee.
G-J school board president Claire Yoder thanked council for the shared-services meeting during her school report at the June 3 council meeting.
"Even though brainstorming was all over the board (at the first meeting), Brian got us focused on the thought process," she said. "Thanks for being the impetus behind that. Thanks for working with us on the shared-services project."
Yoder said she hopes taxpayers would get excited over the next several months about the thought of savings.
"We had one meeting to brainstorm ideas and plan to continue to brainstorm and see what percolates as topics worthy of exploration," said Tom Spring, Jefferson Township administrator. "At this point, there is nothing definitive, but to some extent where we have things in common -- similar supplies or equipment purchases, common training needs, planning, etc. -- there is a great opportunity to explore ways that together we may be able to operate more efficiently or cost-effectively or expand the resources that could become available to the entities working together in areas that make sense."
Mayor Becky Stinchcomb told council the initial shared-services meeting was successful.
"There were some action items of taking a look at their individual operations and talking to their staff to see if there are other areas of cooperation and services," she said. "Some of the items were expected, and some were a bit of a surprise."
Larick said a few suggestions were straight forward and should have a good chance of being successful.
Parks and recreation director Tony Collins already has started discussions with the schools and Jefferson Township regarding athletics facilities and maintenance of those facilities and how to make those more efficient across all of the groups.
Mifflin Township leaders also have identified and suggested a cooperative among governments for broader contracts, broader purchasing and a variety of other possible measures via the implementation of a council government.
"Intergovernmental partnerships have always existed," said Joseph Spanovich, chairman of the Mifflin Township trustees. "Mifflin Township has always been very open and receptive to and continues to look for new cost-saving partnerships with other public entities."
Mifflin Township trustee Lynn Stewart said Mifflin has been part of a consortium -- Metropolitan Emergency Communications Center -- with five other agencies since 2004, and in that consortium, the township purchases products together and share facilities.
"We are working on a similar effort with the city and school district," she said. "Anytime we can save money for the taxpayers, it's a good thing."