Here's a blog post by Bill Dodge at citiwire.net that gets to the heart of several issues that will be examined in the film and at the summit. Dodge writes about the regional future of local governments, making a couple of key points along the way.
First, he says now is the time for innovation, as local governments face the most challenging fiscal environment in decades.
"Local governments have hit financial ceilings, limiting their responses to any tough challenge. They have reached the limit of their capacity to sustain their services, maintain their facilities, and finance employee health care and retirement. Even if individual local governments want to continue to be independent of their neighbors, they can no longer deny the need to work cooperatively to address their toughest challenges."Then he points out that local governments have started working together in a variety of ways, but it all remains "piecemeal."
"Local governments have been reluctant to invest in creating sufficient ongoing capacity to take advantage of crosscutting opportunities and brunt common threats. Witness, for example, the response to the American Recovery and Revitalization Act. Some regions had already invested in cooperative plans and programs for transportation, emergency preparedness, weatherization, or broadband communications, and were prepared to take advantage of the largest infusion of federal funds in this and probably many decades to come. Yet many others had to play catch up and will probably not be as successful in securing adequate funds to address common challenges."His advice: Orient local government around regional charters.
"... regional charter councils (would need) adequate staff and resources to address the tough challenges. (They) would also have access to predictable funding streams for implementing critical actions, including the ability to submit funding options to the public in regional referenda. They would engage regional stakeholders, from all sectors and the general public, but be controlled, or heavily influenced, by local governments. Most importantly, they would be held accountable by the public, such as through annual reports on their activities and periodic citizen reviews of their charters."How does that approach sound? Anybody see any problems with it? Could there be a more effective and efficient way to operate local government in York County?
- Dan Fink