Making Progress For Taxpayers

More and more local officials are becoming aware of the benefits — chiefly cost — of providing services in cooperation with neighboring government entities. Let us hope the philosophy spreads.

Belmont County commissioners had considered establishing their own building inspection department. But last week, they agreed to continue contracting with another county for the service.

Currently, the county contracts with Washington County’s Southeast Ohio Building Department to check for compliance with state building codes. Talk about establishing an in-house agency occurred after complaints regarding Southeast were heard.

Instead of going down that path, commissioners agreed last week to contract with Muskingum County’s building inspection agency in Zanesville. That agreement will become effective in mid-April. Commissioner J.P. Dutton predicts contractors in Belmont County will “get a high level of service” from the new provider.

Dutton also noted one reason for discussion of a Belmont County inspection department was that “there’s more building in the county.”

At one time, development at the level being seen in and expected for Belmont County would have resulted in a snap decision to create a new inspection department. But during recent years, officials in some municipalities and counties have taken a more prudent, farsighted look at finances. They have concluded that if certain services can be obtained less expensively by partnering with other cities and counties, contracting with them is the more responsible route to take.

It is, indeed. Real progress is not making government at the local level bigger. It is making it more efficient and less costly to taxpayers.