Time for action on cooperation

Published 8:18 am Friday, April 27, 2012

All the talk by Franklin City Council candidates — incumbents and challengers alike — about shared services with neighboring localities is heartening.

It’s time, however, for more than lip service and empty campaign promises.

Southampton County’s current budget crisis is yet another reminder of the foolishness of operating mammoth, separate government bureaucracies for adjoining localities with a collective population of fewer than 30,000 people.

The recent campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, elected officials in both localities have not lifted a collective finger to explore substantive consolidation of services. The Franklin City Council and Southampton County Board of Supervisors have not met jointly in two years. The last one was a dog-and-pony show about economic development with no meaningful discussion of comprehensive strategies to create jobs. No one can remember the last time the localities’ school boards met jointly.

It’s mind-boggling that either locality would contemplate a real estate tax increase, a $200-per-household garbage “fee” that is a thinly disguised tax hike, or massive layoffs without first calculating the savings that can be derived from shared services.

Citizens in both Franklin and Southampton County deserve better.