You couldn't miss the message at the start of the Corporate Club at Landerhaven discussion of Regionalism. The drum line from Orange High School marched into the packed room giving a perfect example of one of the already shared services of the 4 communities who were the topic of the event.
For those who came to the Corporate Club hoping to hear of monumental proposals to merge suburbs into the central city of Cleveland (a la Louisville, Indianapolis, Columbus, etc.) they were disappointed in the mayors' plans.
But regionalism has to start somewhere. The investigation of the pros and cons of merging some services of the 4 communities is a necessary first step in the discussion. The 4 communities currently share a school district and senior and recreational programs. Years ago they, along with Hunting Valley, made up Orange Township.
Moderator Tom Beres spoke about the Urge to Merge and how we've had this discussion for decades. He said there are 59 communities in Cuyahoga County and asked "Do we really need 59 police departments, fire departments, service departments, street departments, department of redundancies departments?"
Moderator Tom Beres, Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce Akers, Orange Mayor Kathy Mulcahy and Woodmere Mayor Charles Smith
With recent cuts from the state, the 4 mayors stepped up the talks. They are currently seeking funding from their voters in Fall 2012 to conduct a study on the details of a merger. Then they propose a 2013 vote on the actual merger. The mayors state that a no vote from any of the 4 suburbs would squash the entire deal.
Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce Akers told how their plans for merging 4 suburbs into one have been evolving over the years. They already share school and other service which shows they can work together. The increasing cost of government makes it more important than ever.
Listen to Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce Akers
Orange Mayor Kathy Mulcahy told how the merger discussions began with input from CSU and Baldwin-Wallace. The results of that study led to talks of a merger of the suburbs.
Listen to Orange Mayor Kathy Mulcahy
Woodmere Mayor Charles Smith gave his impressions about a possible merger of his suburb with 3 other eastern suburbs.
Listen to Woodmere Mayor Charles Smith
Of course it all comes down to finances and the mayors are confident that voters will be swayed by the data that is unearthed in the study. Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce Akers quoted statistics showing the 70% growth in local government spending and called it a dysfunctional situation.
Listen to Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce Akers statistics
The consenus in the crowded room was that something needs to be done and the gathering of data and first steps undertaken by these 4 communities will lead to similar discussions in other suburbs.
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