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Our View: Cooperation would benefit city, county

We're glad to see Crescent City and Del Norte County leaders jointly discuss how they might cooperate more. The City Council and County Board met briefly Monday night to brainstorm ways they might work together to become more efficient.

In a county of our small population and with so much land of its under state and federal control, it is a bit odd that city and county governments haven't already consolidated. While they do have many unique functions – the county oversees state-mandated human services while the city runs a wastewater treatment plant – there is plenty of overlap, from law enforcement to road maintenance.

But political realities and a sense of community identity often outweigh what sounds good on paper.

Still, there are lot of ways to make both governments more cost efficient and to improve services without creating turf battles. One way is to simply communicate more so that employees at both city hall and the courthouse can direct local residents and businesses to the right office when there are inquiries.

But it need not stop here. Joint ordering of office supplies and furniture in bulk and coordinating public safety and road repair purchases with sharing agreements would go a long way in saving money without cutting back. Sharing the cost of clerical employees who would work half-time at city hall and half-time at the courthouse could allow each body to afford needed help. A minor duplicated service might even be turned over to the other government.

There's little doubt that we need to further streamline our local governments. The demands for services – and those mandated by state government – continue to rise even though the tax base isn't keeping up with the costs. Solutions must involve making our governments more efficient and finding ways to grow the economy so a stronger tax base exists. The alternative is to simply cut employees and forgo many services – which could mean a longer police response time, streets and roads in disrepair and even longer delays when businesses and landowners seek local permits.

The council and board next meet in April to see how they might combine services. While elective government by its very nature is deliberative, we hope some real, tangible action ultimately comes from these talks.

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