Sunday, February 5, 2012

Learning the Ropes

How does a newly-elected council person learn how to be a council person? They attend newly-elected council person school, that's how! Well, it may not be called exactly that, but between the Center for Local Government, the Hamilton County Planning Commission, the First Suburbs Consortium, and Village Manager Scot Lahrmer, there are plenty of avenues for education. I've spent three Saturday mornings in workshops beginning in December with the Planning Commission's workshop for newly-elected officials. There we learned how the HCPC could assist us in getting projects off the ground through partnerships and grants. In fact, Amberley is using the services of the HCPC to revise the zoning code, beginning with the zoning of the North Site in order to make it more marketable for development. By being a member of the HCPC, Amberley can avail itself of low-cost specialized services and expertise offered by the planning commission.

Council Member Tom Muething practices parliamentary procedure
Last Saturday, four members of council availed themselves of a parliamentary procedure workshop. The workshop was presented by certified parliamentarians. Parliamentary procedure, when used correctly, can aid in expediting meetings. Who among us hasn't experienced attending a meeting where the discussion goes on forever and continues to get sidetracked, only to have us looking at our watch and promising to never attend another meeting? I know, I personally feel as if I've let down my committee if a meeting lasts longer than an hour and a half.

Fire Chiefs from DP/Silverton and Little Miami JFDs
Most recently, the topic of "Shared Services" has been written about quite extensively in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Yesterday, Council Member Bill Doering, former Mayor Merrie Stillpass, and I attended the Shared Services Summit, which was presented by the Center for Local Government and moderated by Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune. Shared services is of particular interest to all local governments given the state of the economy and the diminishing revenue of virtually every municipality in Ohio and elsewhere.  During the five hour summit, we had the opportunity to attend smaller break-out groups which explored various aspects of how municipalities could share services. I chose to attend the presentation given by the chiefs of three local joint fire districts. It can take years to form a joint fire district, and though it may or may not even be feasible for Amberley, there is still the option of exploring contracting fire service with other jurisdictions. I spent some time after the presentation talking to the chief of the Deer Park/ Silverton Joint Fire District. He is very familiar with Amberley's police/fire setup and willing to have a conversation with us regarding areas where we can share services.

Commissioner Portune
It is imperative that we begin to think of new ways of doing things in Amberley Village. If the Police Levy that will be on the March ballot passes, we will be able to have a dedicated source of revenue for our police department for the next five years. During that time, however, Council, Village administration, and our residents must be thinking of and finding innovative ways to provide a level of service to our residents that we can be happy with and also doesn't stretch our budget. The Enquirer has been doing an excellent job reporting on this issue. This week, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Dept. threatened to pull police patrols from ten area townships, leaving some without any police presence at all. Townships May Not Have Any Police Presence When They Lose Sheriff's Patrols.  Today, the Enquirer published an editorial stressing the need to discuss local services. Local Services Must Be Discussed. This is clearly the year when citizens will be pressed to decide what kind and how much service they expect from their local government. Amberley Village, Springfield Township, and Addyston will make that decision on March 6th. I predict that many others will do the same in November.

What is "Shared Services?"

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Deer Park Silverton will provide fire and EMS services for free!! That would fix the budget!


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