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Counties meet to discuss avenues for greater cooperation across county lines


Ford County continued a program started in 2003 by meeting with representatives from four counties in southwest Kansas who gathered, April 13, at an information exchange coordinated by Coronado Crossing Resource Conservation & Development Inc. and sponsored by Ford County, in Dodge City, to explore ideas for expanding cooperative ventures in the delivery of county services.

County commissioners from Clark, Ford, Hodgeman and Seward, along with officers and council members from the Coronado Crossing RC&D, noted trends compelling local governments to find new ways to save tax dollars without sacrificing needed services. Those trends include ever-changing technology, growing demands for specialized expertise, labor shortages, rising costs of equipment and materials, and unfunded mandates. The group also identified ways that counties in the region presently cooperate in service delivery, including sharing of equipment, solid waste disposal, juvenile detention and public health services.

The main task of the meeting was brainstorming possibilities for new "cross boundary" cooperation among counties. Discussion yielded a list of 25 ideas ranging from sharing technology to crime fighting and prevention to a regional public transit program. From their initial list, participants agreed to focus immediate attention on two possibilities: 1) A regional approach to geographic information services (GIS), costly computer-based location information essential to many county programs such as emergency medical services; and

2) Expansion of regional cooperation in law enforcement with particular focus on juvenile crime prevention and eradication of methamphetamine labs.

"Ford County recognizes the need to expand existing cooperative programs and explore others to meet the present and future needs of our citizens," stated Ford County Commissioner John Swayze. "All the economic trends in our region require us to forge new partnerships with our neighbors."

The group agreed to invite representatives from other counties to join the discussion and will convene again next month at a time to be determined.

The Coronado Crossing Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council is a regional non-profit organization representing the counties of Clark, Ford, Gray, Haskell, Hodgeman, Meade and Seward. The RC&D's mission is "to serve our communities through improved resource management and development, in order to improve the quality of life and standard of living for current and future generations."

For more information about the RC&D program or the next meeting, please contact Lea Ann Seiler, president, at 620-357-8831; Ed Elam, treasurer at 620-227-4670; or Roger Masenthin, acting coordinator, at 620-896-7378.

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