Streetsboro -- Back in January 2012, new Mayor Glenn Broska convened a gathering of area mayors, service directors and other officials aimed at saving money through regional collaboration.
"It is my belief that the days of standing alone have gone by the wayside," said Broska at the group's first meeting. "We must make a commitment to continue to search for the answers that will help us better the communities in which we work and live."
Broska said the group's goal is to find ways to share costs of service department related activities, such as snow plowing and responding.
The group representing about 12 communities continued to meet quarterly to develop plans.
One of the first requests City Council's may see from the group is a proposal to create a regional mutual aid agreement, applying to public service emergencies.
It's the first of a number of proposals which may come out of the collaboration, one that Stow Service Director Mike Miller during an October meeting called "the low-hanging fruit" because it's relatively straightforward, compared with other proposals in the works.
Broska, whose administration is currently working on an ordinance authorizing the agreement, said events served by a mutual aid agreement might include responding to localized storms from flooding or wind, a train derailment or a gas leak.
"I would speculate that it won't even be two or three events per year," said the former Twinsburg Fire Department captain. "That type of stuff won't happen very often."
The group also is in the process of creating a regional inventory of each municipalities' service department tools, supplies and skills, which is being kept on a dedicated website hosted by the city of Ravenna.
The group hopes, over time, to further formalize cooperation among service departments through shared purchases of equipment items and broader sharing of services.
"The more we come together and talk to each other and talk about our challenges and struggles to run our governments, the more we realize we all have the same problems, and we need to help each other to figure out those solutions," said Kelly Engelhart, Ravenna service director in October.
During the January meeting, State Sen. John Eklund said legislators and officials in Columbus value these types of collaborative efforts to save money.
"I think that this is completely consistent with the attitude and mood that pervades in the senate, and, I have reason believe, in the governor's office, as well," he told attendees at the January gathering.
Anytime local officials working on regional endeavors need help with funding or encounter regulatory barriers to progress, he said they should call him and other legislators.
The group's next meeting, which is open to the public, takes place Jan. 10 at 11:30 a.m. at Hudson Public Library, 96 Library Street, Hudson.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens