Are you looking for a way to do more with less or are you looking for way to do more by creating more to do it with? Either way can be a sound practice as not-for-profit groups and government officials continue to steer the unsettled waters of today’s economy.
Over the past few months we’ve seen the Freedom Valley and Philadelphia YMCAs merge and, more recently, The Open Line and Upper Perkiomen Senior Center joined forces. Both efforts were studied and the logical conclusion reached was that the groups could become stronger and survive. The efforts and sacrifices of these groups can be a roadmap for local government officials.
If we take a serious and honest look at our area government services and their resources you’ll find that everybody is good at something and nobody is good at everything. Municipalities have strengths and weaknesses. That’s not a criticism; it’s an honest observation that there is only so much money in the budget and because of that, officials can only do so much.
Governments run on taxes and, most often, look only within the confines of their municipality for taxpayer savings. When it can’t be found, the only alternative is to raise taxes.
Not-for-profit groups don’t have the alternative to raise the mandatory donation of their givers. They need to be innovative in their search for survival; hence the recent cooperative efforts.
Back in the 1950’s the municipal school districts of the Upper Perkiomen Valley decided that merging into one was a smart financial and education move – it was. In the 1970’s officials in East Greenville, Pennsburg and Red Hill decided that they could get a better price for trash hauling if they combined the services for all three boroughs into one contract – it worked.
The 1960’s gave us the Upper Montgomery Joint Authority, servicing the boroughs of East Greenville, Pennsburg and Red Hill. A couple of decades later came the Milford-Trumbauersville Area Sewer Authority. Could you imagine each of these municipalities going at it alone with their own sewer services?
Decisions for local government mergers, cooperative efforts and other service agreements are sometimes clouded by parochial attitudes of officials, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The cooperative effort can be as simple as purchasing a service from a neighboring municipality for a lesser cost than you can provide. Why go without the service or pay a higher price when what you need is in you neighbor’s office or garage, used sparingly and available for a deal? All you need to do is reach out and make an agreement that is beneficial to both sides. But before you can do that you need to know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are.
The not-for-profits formed the Upper Perkiomen Valley Community Services Coalition to share information and suggestions regarding the present and future of needed community services.
Perhaps local government officials can form a like group to share information and offer suggestions on how to utilize their strengths and weaknesses to better services and keep taxes down.
You could be developing a way to do more with less and you might find a way to do more by creating more.
How will you know if you don’t try?