Regional Cooperation Continues in Northwest Missouri
As regular readers know (my old joke would have been to insert "both of you" there, but I am pretty sure we are up to three by now), I like to use this blog to point our examples of cooperation between local governments in Missouri. With as many small governments as we have, cooperation is the way in which we will keep quality services and efficiently use tax dollars.
In Northwest Missouri, 15 counties have joined together to create a regional hazardous material response squad. Apparently, though, it has been having financial difficulties because of a reduction in grants from Homeland Security. The St. Joseph News-Press has the full story here. The good news is that some of the problems were worked out in a joint meeting recently, and the team will continue. Every county involved in the program deserves great credit for being a part of it. Apparently, though, there could be even more cooperation:
Complicating the situation is a new team in Chillicothe and the St. Joseph haz-mat team splitting the diminishing federal funds three ways.
Do both Buchanan County and St. Joseph need their own haz-mat teams? Are there that many dangerous spills and leaks in one county?
I also enjoyed this idea:
The board also discussed alleviating some of the financial burden on the smaller counties by not counting prison populations as county citizens.
So they get to count the prison population when it helps, as with political redistricting and federal block grants, but not count it when it hurts? Makes sense to me and, besides, why would an emergency response team ever have to go to a prison?
All these counties deserve kudos for this program, but as the article makes clear, many of them are unable to afford their contributions. Along with lack of 911 service for parts of rural Missouri, this is an example of the choices people in very low-tax areas, such as rural Missouri, have to make. Frankly, they would not even need to raise tax rates to properly fund these public safety issues on a local basis if their assessments were only accurate. But that is another issue, and I hope this regional haz-mat team continues to serve the residents of this area for a long time.