Counties, cities should continue sharing services

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — During Joe Manchin’s first term as governor, he signed legislation allowing counties and cities to combine operations in one of three forms. The bill allows a metro government to be formed between city and city, city and county or county and county if approved by 55 percent of voters in the affected areas.

Some examples of metro governments across the country are Jacksonville, Florida; Lexington, Kentucky; Louisville, Kentucky; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

There have been some steps toward merged services locally.

Harrison County Commission President Ron Watson – a proponent of metro government — told The Exponent Telegram that housing and emergency services are two areas in which combined services locally have been successful.

Clarksburg-Harrison Regional Housing Authority Executive Director Louis Aragona said the two housing authorities merged in 2006. Clarksburg oversees public housing and vouchers, and the county has vouchers and the home-ownership program.

“We are more efficient, and so we save more money in getting programs out to people in less time with less effort,” Aragona said. “We also created a nonprofit, Mountain Opportunities Corporation, to access money housing funds can’t, such as home ownership through Housing Development Fund.”

At least two emergency services centers in the region cover multiple counties.

Harrison-Taylor 911 Center Deputy Chief Jim Copenhaver said the biggest benefit is the cost involved for both counties since they combined in October 2003.

“Sharing expenses winds up being less expensive for both counties…

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