Government collaboration unlikely this time around
University Heights Councilman Kevin Murphy listens as Laura Scharf, spokesman for the EfficientGovNow program, explains rules for collaborative grant applications. Photo by Bob Rosenbaum.
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University Heights Councilman Kevin Murphy’s attempt to get in on $300,000 in grant money for municipal collaboration was probably too little too late. But municipal leaders who showed up at a town hall-style meeting April 30 gave him credit for starting an important conversation.
Murphy called the public meeting, inviting officials from University Heights, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, Shaker Heights, Beachwood and Lyndhurst. His goal was to get buy-in from at least two cities for a 250-word abstract that he submitted to the EfficientGovNow program.
That program, according to Laura Scharf, its hired spokesperson, will provide a total of $300,000 for up to three projects that demonstrate collaboration between governments, delivering cost savings and increased competitiveness.
While EfificentGovNow will select grant finalists, the ultimate recipients will be determined in July by a public vote via phone, online and paper ballots, Scharf said.
Murphy’s abstract outlines a three-point collaboration: 1) align planning for capital expenditures; 2) align contract negotiations for supplies, services and perhaps even union agreements; and 3) align accounting systems among participating cities. He said he couldn’t yet estimate the cost savings of the plan -- which is unrelated to the recently broached topic of a merger between CH and UH (see pages 2-3).
A more detailed grant application is due May 31. It must meet a list of conditions, including firm commitment from at least two governments to participate.
That commitment is unlikely. It would require planning, budgeting and council votes by multiple cities within a 30-day window. In fact, Scharf implied that the program was extending a courtesy by allowing Murphy to muster support that should have been in place when the abstract was turned in. She said 65 other proposals have been received from across the 16-county region of Northeast Ohio.
In trying to meet a short deadline, Murphy may have skipped some important political niceties, for which he paid at the thinly attended meeting. Other elected leaders didn’t know about his proposal until he had already turned it in.
Beachwood officials didn’t bother to attend the meeting -- and have said publicly that they aren’t interested in collaborating. Officials from South Euclid and Lyndhurst didn’t attend but told Murphy to report back and they would consider joining the plan. Cleveland Heights and University Heights were both well represented at the meeting, and their officials were the most vocal about encouraging more discussion.
“Even if nothing comes of this,” Murphy said, “At least we met. At least we’ve started talking.”
Council members who made their presence known at the April 30 meeting to discuss collaboration among governments were:
Kevin Murphy, Frank Consolo, Steven Sims, Peter Bernardo, Adele Zucker
Bonita Caplan, Nancy Dietrich, Phyllis Evans, Robert Downey (city manager, not elected)