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Merging services can alter jurisdiction control

Register • Feb 18, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Merging city and county services takes careful consideration as to whether it will be in the best interest of the city.  The city shouldn’t get into a situation where things can be made worse just because the city wishes to get rid of a service in order to save money.

Several government entities are within the county’s borders with each having its own governmental jurisdiction.  Some entities can save money by merging services, but the city needs to look at whether or not it is giving up way too much control to another entity.

Merging the city land bank with the county land bank is not a good idea. The city should never give up control of land to an outside agency. Once the city properties have been relinquished, the properties become the county land bank’s decision to utilize the land as its sees fit within the city’s borders.

The two land banks are set up differently.  The county’s land bank is a stand-alone nonprofit with an obligation of paying out a hefty salary to its director.  Sandusky’s land bank does not have a director, so it doesn’t have the financial burden of trying to meet payroll for a director, which could prove to be difficult with a tight budget.

The city’s land bank works closely with all the city’s departments so the city is able to expedite the properties more efficiently.  The land bank has been a handy tool dealing with the various housing problems in town with a high percentage of rentals in the area.  Staff has worked diligently to keep the land bank properties turned over and placed back on the tax rolls as soon as it is legally possible to do so.

Merging services is never a fair process unless all the county entities agree to be included in the land bank and not just Sandusky. Usually, when entities merge, Sandusky ends up paying most of the costs.  Sandusky has its own financial problems, so it doesn’t need to be financially supporting other entities.   

The city commissioners are eager to cut the budget, but they should not get too enthused with the merging process that they lose control over the responsibilities within their jurisdiction.       

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