Wednesday, November 24, 2010


At Commissioner Pete Ferguson's initiative, local officials assembled at the Stark County Regional Planning Agency to hear a presentation by Bid Express officials to interest county, township, city and village officials in an Internet program offered for a fee by the company which appears to more than pay for itself in savings to local governments who have to competitively bid out government business (by state law) and, where not required to do by law, should do so.

By coming together, local governments can pool their resources to make the program affordable.  Commissioner Ferguson and Councilman-at-Large Bill Smuckler (who will be running for mayor of Canton in May, 2011) are spearheading the effort.  Although Ferguson is newer at the effort than Smuckler (who has been the foremost advocate of regionalism in Stark County), he is pushing hard to get better cooperation.

But will local governments be receptive to the Ferguson/Smuckler prodding?

Yours truly has written before on this topic and will continue to do so in an effort to push efficiency and effectiveness in local government.

It has been like pulling teeth to get local governments (17 townships and 19 villages and cities) to work together on such things as developing an efficient and effective countywide 9-1-1 call and dispatch system, consolidating health department functions and merging building department duplicated operations.

On 9-1-1, for instance, a major 9-1-1 player with its CenCom center - Nimishillen Township - refuses to cooperate with county officials putting together a countywide system. 

On the building department issue, there is a problem with outright merger because Canton has more detailed requirements than Stark County and therefore a countywide agency would not suffice.  However, the county can and the SCPR believes should contract with Canton to do the county's work.

One has to wonder where Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II is on the issue of consolidation.  He talks a good game.  However, his administration presented and had Canton City Council pass a measure Monday evening to continue an independent contract for building code oversight and enforcement and not coordinate with Stark County officials despite Canton's supposed interest in   His prime opponent in May, Councilman Bill Smuckler seems to be much more consistent and hence reliable on government consolidation, merger and cooperation than Healy.  Smuckler voted against the Healy administration proposal.

On another front, apparently the mergers of the health departments are pretty much a certainty with the Canton Health Department likely to be the surviving entity.

Ferguson issued an invitation to many more political subdivision officeholders than showed up at the October 19th meeting he called for them to hear Bid Express make its presentation.  The Report has prepared a video for those not attending and for citizens interested in the taxpayer savings to be realized in an adopting of the Bid Express program to see.

The presentation is compelling and Commissioner Ferguson tells the SCPR that he believes that its adoption will become a reality.

With the county facing as much as a $20 million drop off of revenues from 2010 to 2012 and with many of Stark's villages, cities and township facing financial difficulties, the time has never been a better time to push for more cooperation, sharing and merger of duplicative services among all of Stark County's governments.

Much more needs to be done than is currently being considered.  However, Stark Countians should be encouraged with the efforts underway.

Here is the video presentation by Bid Express.

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