By Lavea Brachman
An editorial in The Columbus Dispatch last week highlighted cost-saving initiatives underway in Franklin County, which we applaud as exciting initial steps toward greater operating efficiencies. Collaborative efforts, such as combining paper supply orders, foregoing separate postage meters, and setting up a multi-agency county employee health insurance pool, serve as important governance reform models for other local governments to follow throughout the state. Ultimately, we hope to see other local governments following Franklin County’s lead.
However, we believe that these measures set the stage for more dramatic reforms involving greater governmental integration down the road – such as regional governance, which might include city-county mergers or other joint governing, and regional revenue-sharing. We hope promotion of such reforms will be a priority for the Governor, his administration and the General Assembly. As Ohio continues to face severe budget cuts, incremental cost-saving measures such as those taken by Franklin County leaders, while necessary are not sufficient. True governance reform of this type allows counties to get ahead of future budget cuts and leverage the state’s rich multiplicity of urban and metropolitan regions, thus transforming Ohio into a 21st century economy. With seven of the nation’s top 100 major metros – and metro regions being critical economic drivers -- Ohio can reap the benefits of being a “metro” state with the necessary policy tools to act regionally and promote vital land use and infrastructure redevelopment. Greater Ohio is launching a “regional governance initiative” to press these policies forward, in partnership with local and regional leaders. Over the next several months, the Regional Governance Initiative will utilize research, outreach, legislative advocacy and education, to undertake an unprecedented statewide effort to promote and institutionalize regionalism, regional economic development and related new governance structures in Ohio.