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After several years of work, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium released its vision document for the 12-county Northeast Ohio region. The vision makes nine recommendations for improving the future of the region, and identifies 41 initiatives for implementing them. The NEOSCC is collecting signatures from supporters of the vision, and its board is scheduled to vote on the vision's adoption at a February 25 meeting. Marc Lefkowitz of GreenCityBlueLake called it "a path forward that amplifies the good things about our communities."

The Avon Lake Municipal Utilities are preparing an agreement for supplying water to the City of Westlake. City leaders want to transfer away from the Cleveland Water Department.

The 12-county Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium introduced its "business as usual" scenario and hosted a series of public workshops. The "business as usual" scenario presented a vision of how the region would look in 2040 if current development patterns continue. It said that urban sprawl combined with flat population figures would lead to the abandonment of 10.5% of the region's housing stock. Research by Tom Bier of Cleveland State reached a similar conclusion. Nearly 600 people attended the six public workshops, participating in several planning exercises. A Plain Dealer editorial noted that "there's still time to reverse course."

The scenario planning exercise continued with the release of ImagineMyNEO, an interactive tool built on the open-source CrowdGauge framework. It places users in the role of a regional planner, asking them to identify their priorities for the region, select policies and practices, and allot limited resources. The NEOSCC will hold more open houses and workshops later this year.

Mayor Summers of Lakewood and Mayor Clough of Westlake participated in a recent League of Women Voters forum (PDF) on regionalism. While they agreed on some aspects like service delivery, they offered different views on topics like tax-base sharing and the role of the central city.

The shared services/merger study for four east side Cuyahoga County communities may focus more on sharing services than a merger of the communities. Residents from Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere shared their thoughts with project consultants at four public meetings in February.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald gave his third State of the County address on February 19. In addition to highlighting his achievements, he announced that the Medical Mart in Cleveland is now named the Global Center for Health Innovation. He also called on leaders to consider staging a second Great Lakes Exposition in 2016. The speech is online as video, audio (MP3, 53.7 MB), and text (PDF). His slideshow (PPT, 15.3 MB) is also available.

Steven Litt said that the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium is providing the region with "its best shot in decades to come up with a better vision for a more sustainable future that could also shrink the cost of government," but noted that "time is running out for NEOSCC."

As of late January, all of Cuyahoga County's 59 cities, villages, and townships have adopted the County's anti-poaching pledge. Middleburg Heights was the final community to sign the agreement. The Greater Cleveland Partnership applauded the announcement, and an earlier Sun News editorial said that "Cuyahoga County needs its communities to work together".

Cuyahoga County named the nonprofit Center for Governmental Research of Rochester as the lead consultant for the merger/shared services study for Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere. The study will be supported by a $100,000 state LGIF grant and a $34,130 NOACA grant. A Plain Dealer editorial said it "could turn out to be among the most important public dollars [the county] spends this year."

The board of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium selected Sasaki Associates of Boston as the lead consultant for the regional planning initiative. The consulting team will provide planning and project management services, scenario planning, and fiscal impact analyses. Prior to the announcement, Hunter Morrison and Jason Segedy of the NEOSCC described the planning process in a Plain Dealer op-ed, and David Beach of GreenCityBlueLake said that it will be "our best shot in decades to think creatively about the future of our region."

In January, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will begin assessing fees for its stormwater management program. The average homeowner will pay about $60 per year. NEORSD provides details about the program and offers a fee finder. A group of 11 suburbs are continuing to challenge the program in court and expect that the case eventually will reach the Ohio Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a federal judge is considering a revised plan for eliminating combined sewer overflows in Akron. The amended consent decree has been approved by the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the judge "should be pleased enough with the advances to give his approval."

Update: Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells of NEORSD answered questions about the stormwater management program on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald marked the one-year anniversary of the County's anti-poaching pledge by reporting that 45 of the County's 59 communities have signed on. Recent adopters include Bay Village, Beachwood, North Royalton, Rocky River, and Strongsville. Mayfield Heights rejected the agreement.

Five northern Summit County communities are considering a settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District about the district's stormwater management program. The City of Hudson and Sagamore Hills Township approved the settlement, but it will not take effect until it's signed by the other three communities. Editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal urge the Summit County communities to approve the agreement and encourage a group of Cuyahoga County communities to drop their legal challenge.

Aurora City Council approved a JEDD agreement for the Marketplace at Four Corners development in Bainbridge Township. The Bainbridge Township Trustees approved the agreement in May.

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Pokorny issued his final opinion regarding the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program. At the judge's request, NEORSD made several changes to the program, including increasing the amount of funding returned to communities from 7.5% to 25%. While some communities continue to object, the Sewer District intends to begin implementing the program in January 2013.

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium launched its Conditions and Trends Platform, a "compilation of research about our region that will allow us to take a collective look at what we are doing as a region and where we seem to be heading." It presents information from the initiative's five work steams for the 12-county Northeast Ohio region, and identified urban sprawl as one of the region's major issues.

The Kasich administration released "Beyond Boundaries: A Shared Services Action Plan for Ohio Schools and Governments", a report that presents shared services as a way for local governments and school districts to address shrinking budgets. It says that implementing its recommendations could save millions of dollars. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the report's suggestions hold much potential, but it "barely touches on the challenges that lie ahead."

In its first round of funding, Ohio's Local Government Innovation Council awarded $3.4 million in grants and $2.9 million in loans (PDFs) to a total of 51 projects. Cuyahoga County received a $100,000 grant to support the merger/shared services study for Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere. South Euclid received a $51,386 grant for a five-city emergency services dispatch study, and the Chagrin/Southeast Council of Governments received a $55,000 grant for a joint communication center. Jill Miller Zimon of the EfficientGovNetwork discussed the awards with Randy Cole of the Ohio Controlling Board.

Leaders of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium promoted regional cooperation at a recent conference, shared the feedback they gathered (PDF) at a series of events with young leaders, and released an overview (PDF) of their public opinion survey. The survey found that most Northeast Ohioans support sustainability, although few were able to accurately describe the concept. Satisfaction levels were lower among 18 to 24-year-olds. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the survey "captures welcome signs about a general willingness among residents to change direction." The Consortium has also come under criticism, as board chairman Jason Segedy said that it has yet to address the region's "poor integration between land use and transportation", while Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt questioned its ability to produce meaningful change.

The City of Westlake is seeking a declaratory judgment in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court about the City's contract with the Cleveland Division of Water. Westlake leaders remain interested in changing water suppliers.

One year into its three-year timeline, the 12-county Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium is starting to shift from organization and data collection to public engagement around regional planning and urban sprawl. A Plain Dealer editorial highlighted the need for regional unity, while Marc Lefkowitz wondered whether members will create a new vision and inspire action. Stephen Hambley, Hunter Morrison, and Brad Whitehead discussed the consortium on WCPN's Sound of Ideas. The consortium has held several events for young leaders across Northeast Ohio, and will host an event in Cleveland on May 16.

Update: Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal said that "pushing ahead [with regionalism] may be the only option for major metropolitan areas."

Bainbridge Township and the City of Aurora have resumed talks about a proposed JEDD for the Marketplace shopping center. For the first several years, 80% of the proceeds would go to the developer. Talks about the proposal were revived last year.

Update: the Aurora Advocate has more information.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced that eight more suburbs, including Brecksville and Lyndhurst, have signed the County's anti-poaching pledge, bringing the total to 28 communities.

A group of suburbs continues to oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program. They are appealing a February Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ruling that upheld the program.

The Brunswick Post and Fresh Water recently reported on the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium's planning process.

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Pokorny confirmed that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has the authority to implement a regional stormwater management program and that its associated fee is not unlawful tax. A group of suburbs had challenged the stormwater plans. The judge also determined that Hudson is a member, undoing a decision he made last year.

Update: officials in Summit County hope to reach a compromise.

Kent State University's Center For Public Administration and Public Policy posted a set of eight case studies on intergovernmental collaborations in Northeast Ohio.

Participants in a recent City Club panel discussion talked about state budget cuts and ways that local governments can achieve efficiencies by sharing services. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Mayor DeGeeter of Parma highlighted his city's participation in regional collaborations.

Update: the latest Civic Commons radio show also explored the subject.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges the Cleveland Division of Water and the cities of Macedonia and Westlake to resolve their differences without the cities changing water systems. The paper's Brent Larkin is highly critical of both Mayor Clough and the Division of Water.

Update: officials debated the issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

In his second State of the County address, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald highlighted his accomplishments and introduced the Western Reserve Plan. He presented its 12 principles and his long range vision to an audience of more than 850 people. A Plain Dealer editorial said that County Executive FitzGerald deserves "credit for setting big goals when he has the political capital to pursue them." Audio (MP3, 53.0 MB) and a transcript (PDF) of the address are available.

Update: some suburban leaders expressed interest in sharing services.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports County Executive FitzGerald's approach. Video of the address is now online.

In a presentation to Cleveland City Council about the region's housing market, Tom Bier said that Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs must work together on redevelopment efforts.

Mayor Mulcahy said that voters in Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere probably won't see a ballot issue this November on a potential merger due to the complexity of the subject and the need for study.

At GreenCityBlueLake, Marc Lefkowitz looked to San Diego for ideas to inform the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium's planning process.

The Ohio House of Representatives recently approved changes to the Local Government Innovation Fund, a $45 million grant and loan program that will support local government collaborations. The state will hold an outreach session at Tri-C's Corporate College East on January 17.

Update: the Local Government Innovation Fund application (PDF) is now available.

Update 2: the Akron Beacon Journal described the program.

Election recap

Tuesday's election included the following issues:

Visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for complete results.

In Lorain County, voters rejected a quarter-percent sales tax increase. The county will institute cuts that include reducing its contribution to Lorain County Transit from $100,000 to $50,000. Avon voters approved a charter amendment that establishes a minimum lot size for residential areas.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald promoted his anti-poaching protocol in a Plain Dealer op-ed, calling the agreement "an eminently reasonable step toward fostering cooperation in the interest of economic development."

More than 100 people attended the EfficientGovNetwork Regional Collaboration Conference in Akron on Thursday. They learned about practices and policies for increasing intergovernmental cooperation and efficiency.

Update: Adam Harvey shared his notes and reactions from the conference.

Update 2: conference attendees explained their views.

Beachwood's economic development consultant team presented its Economic Development Action Plan (PDF) to City Council on October 10. The plan offers seven fundamentals for an economic development program and sets of recommendations in eight areas. One of the suggestions encourages the City to adopt a regional approach to economic development.

On Thursday, the mayors of Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere discussed the potential merger of their communities (along with the Village of Moreland Hills) at a Corporate Club forum. They spoke about their motivations and the potential cost savings.

Update: the Chagrin Solon Sun and Cleveland Jewish News reported on the event. Meanwhile, Jill Miller Zimon interviewed Gary Norton, the mayor of East Cleveland and Beryl Rothschild, the former mayor of University Heights.

Leaders in Berea anticipate adopting Cuyahoga County Executive FitzGerald's anti-poaching agreement, while Highland Heights City Council rejected the agreement. Strongsville officials are considering the proposal.

Update: the Sun Messenger says that Highland Heights City Council wants more information on the plan before deciding.

The November 8 ballot includes several planning and zoning issues in Cuyahoga County communities.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has a complete list of issues (PDF) and an absentee ballot application.

In Avon, voters will decide a charter amendment that would establish a minimum lot size.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced his revised Business Attraction and Anti-Poaching Protocol. It's intended to reduce incentives for business relocations that that do not add to the region's economic output. The proposed agreement is less ambitious than the initial concept.

Update: the Plain Dealer provided more details, and in an editorial, said that the agreement "embodies two principles critical to the future of this area."

Update 2: reactions from suburban leaders have been mixed.

Update 3: Mayor DePiero of Parma signed and Pepper Pike City Council approved the agreement.

NOACA's governing board approved a $34,100 grant to Cuyahoga County to support a study of the potential merger of Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere. The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission will conduct the study.

Mayor Spremulli of Bentleyville has concerns about the potential merger of Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere. A Chagrin Solon Sun editorial says that the "beauty of regionalism is that it can be adapted to fit a community's needs."

In Canton's Repository, Brad Whitehead of the Fund for our Economic Future wrote about the benefits of government collaboration in Northeast Ohio.

Mayors and residents discussed the proposed merger of Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere on the latest Civic Commons radio show.

Nineteen Summit County communities have signed the Job Preservation and Revenue Sharing Agreement. The anti-business-poaching initiative began in 2009 with seven communities.

The two-year state budget signed by Governor Kasich includes an extension and expansion of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, the new Innovation Fund intended to support local government restructuring efforts, and the option to pursue a lease of the Ohio Turnpike.

Update: the National Trust for Historic Preservation has more information about the tax credit renewal, and the Blade has more on the possible lease of the turnpike.

The Plain Dealer took a closer look at the idea of merging Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere, and the Chagrin Valley Times and Cleveland Jewish News got reactions from municipal officials. The mayors of the four communities discussed the concept on Monday's Sound of Ideas program, and a Plain Dealer editorial said that the "communities are establishing a valuable template others can -- and should -- follow."

Update: the Chagrin Solon Sun gathered additional reactions.

Update 2: a Chagrin Solon Sun editorial supports the process.

County Executive FitzGerald and the mayors of Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere announced that they will begin to study the possibility of merging their communities. The mayors are looking for ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs. If the communities decide to proceed with the merger, voter approval would be required to establish a study commission and later for a merger plan.

NOACA uploaded more videos from its annual summit, in addition to its coverage of Jerry Wray's talk. Part one includes introductory remarks, part two features commentary from Commissioner Hambley of Medina County, and parts three, four, five, and six are a panel discussion about the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium.

Governor Kasich said that he and legislative leaders intend to appoint a commission that will study governmental consolidations. The budget bill approved by the Ohio House included $250,000 to encourage collaborations, but the Ohio Senate did not include the funding in its bill. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Tom Bier calls for Cuyahoga County communities to adopt a new principle of shared responsibility.

Update: the Plain Dealer's Joe Frolik says that collaborations and consolidations should be an important issue in municipal elections.

Brook Park leaders decided to not pursue the proposed water main maintenance and no poaching agreement with the City of Cleveland. Brook Park's law director recommended against the pact, saying it could hurt the City's ability to attract companies.

On Thursday morning, County Executive FitzGerald met with representatives of about 20 Cuyahoga County communities to present a draft of a new anti-poaching protocol (PDF). Under the agreement, communities would not actively recruit businesses located in another Cuyahoga County community. He hopes to finalize the agreement by the end of September. Communities that sign on would be given an advantage when seeking support from the County's planned $100 million economic development fund.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that cities should sign the pact.

Kent State University's Center for Public Administration and Public Policy compiled an inventory of more than 240 intergovernmental collaboration projects in 16 Northeast Ohio counties, and published a list of 105 initiatives. The most popular areas for partnerships were in public safety, public works, and economic development.

Meanwhile, in a Plain Dealer op-ed, Brad Whitehead and Joe Roman describe a regional approach to economic competitiveness. Ohio's proposed budget bill would provide funds to encourage government collaborations. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the final budget should include the incentives, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that the budget asks too much of local governments.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information about the Kent State study.

A new Greater Ohio analysis of Ohio's sales tax patterns and policies concludes that "Ohio's county-based sales tax structure is misaligned with regional shopping trends." It recommends strategies for modernizing the state's taxation system. A short report issued (PDF) by Advance Northeast Ohio puts forward a case for increasing local government collaborations as a method of increasing efficiency.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business and WKSU reported on the Advance Northeast Ohio report. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that communities need more financial support for collaboration initiatives.

State legislation scheduled to be introduced this spring would allow Ohio townships or counties to merge. It would not affect potential mergers involving cities or villages.

Greater Ohio's response to Governor Kasich's proposed 2012-2013 state budget says that "budget cuts MUST be combined with strategic and targeted investments" and suggests policy and legislative changes (PDF) for modernizing local government.

The Akron Beacon Journal provides more details about the new Thriving Communities Institute at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

In a new paper, Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution used Greater Cleveland as one of three examples of metropolitan areas that are "engaged in practical, smart, and self-starting efforts to grow the economy that are all about pragmatic, bottom-up problem solving at a time when the ills of top-down, business-as-usual economic affairs have become increasingly apparent." Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future presented Northeast Ohio's strategy today at a Brookings Institution event in Washington, D.C.

In the first State of the County Address, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald laid out plans to create a $100 million economic development fund, facilitate municipal collaborations, and support education and community safety programs. He said that his agenda represents "a sweeping and ambitious plan for the recovery of Cuyahoga County."

Update: the text and presentation from County Executive FitzGerald's speech are now online. The City Club posted audio (MP3, 52.1 MB) and video of the event.

Former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison will be program director for the 12-county Northeast Ohio Consortium for Sustainable Communities. Medina County Commissioner Steve Hambley will serve as the regional planning initiative's chairman and AMATS Director Jason Segedy its vice chairman.

Update: the Medina County Gazette described Commissioner Hambley's role.

Update 2: the Plain Dealer and WCPN have more details.

Governor Kasich's proposed fiscal year 2012-2013 budget includes higher than anticipated cuts to the state's local government fund. Cuyahoga County leaders are promoting cost-saving regionalism initiatives.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the budget will force local governments to collaborate.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy will establish Thriving Communities Institute in partnership with former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, who will serve as its director. The 14-county initiative is intended to facilitate the "transformation of aging and declining urban areas through troubled mortgage and land vacancy mitigation, land conservation and land reuse in an intentional and integrated manner."

Update: Jim Rokakis spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman about the initiative.

The Fund for Our Economic Future awarded $1.385 million in grants at its meeting last week. The awards include a $500,000 grant to support Northeast Ohio's Sustainable Communities Initiative.

Participants in the community roundtable on this week's Civic Commons radio show (MP3, 16.3 MB) discussed regional collaboration.

A Sun Press editorial says that "neighboring municipalities are pooling resources to purchase items or utilize services that can benefit all municipalities involved" and that municipal collaboration can save money.

Willoughby Mayor Dave Anderson explained why he does not support the Regional Prosperity Initiative to Dan Moulthrop of the Civic Commons. On Thursday, the Levin College Forum will host discussions about regional collaboration.

Update: participants on Thursday Sound of Ideas program also talked about regional planning.

Update 2: Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder addressed attendees at the CSU forum, and Dan Moulthrop spoke with Richfield Mayor Mike Lyons, one of the event's panelists.

Update 3: the Levin College Forum posted a summary of the event, and the Civic Commons radio show addressed the subject (MP3, 16.3 MB).

Leaders in Brook Park are considering the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. Highland Heights City Council has also been pondering the proposal.

Update: Brook Park officials continue to discuss the proposal.

Economist and blogger Chris Briem described how Northeast Ohio and Southwestern Pennsylvania are interconnected and asserted that "in many ways it already functions as a single region." The Cleveland-to-Pittsburgh area is also the focus of the Regional Learning Network and the Tech Belt initiative.

A Plain Dealer editorial supports Cuyahoga County Executive-elect FitzGerald's call for increased municipal collaboration. Mayor DePiero of Parma also backs the idea.

The Gund Foundation awarded $8 million in grants, which included a $100,000 grant to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition and $70,000 to the Trust for Public Land. The Fund for Our Economic Future announced a $50,000 grant to the Regional Prosperity Initiative.

Mayor Akers of Pepper Pike recently spoke in Shaker Heights about the Regional Prosperity Initiative. He described it as "connecting existing systems of collaboration."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan described the federal Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program and its recent $4.25 million grant for regional planning in Northeast Ohio. Columnist Neal Peirce highlighted the Northeast Ohio award and said that the grant program shows how federal government can be made more efficient and effective through cross-department collaborations.

Northeast Ohio was one of 45 areas selected for funding through HUD's $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The consortium of 21 entities from 12 counties was awarded $4.25 million to "develop a cooperative regional plan to address housing, transportation, environmental impact and economic development for Northeast Ohio." The consortium consists of MPOs, housing authorities, and county and city governments, plus the Levin College of Urban Affairs, the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and the Fund for Our Economic Future, which helped to fund and organize the application.

At Streetsblog Capitol Hill, Angie Schmitt described how decades of urban sprawl have damaged Greater Cleveland and the small hope offered by the Northeast Ohio application for a federal regional planning grant.

The Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration issued its final report. It features a series of recommendations (PDF) designed to to encourage governmental cooperation and consolidation, but does not call for requiring increases in local government efficiency. Greater Ohio said that the report is "a step in the right direction," an Akron Beacon Journal editorial called it "a modest agenda," and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution said that state leaders need to act more aggressively. Two members of the commission, Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy and attorney Tim Downing, discussed the report on Thursday's Sound of Ideas program.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch has more information.

A coalition of 20 Northeast Ohio stakeholders submitted an application for a regional planning grant from the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation filed $259 million in grant requests through the federal TIGER II program, including a request for $12.3 million to develop a statewide electric vehicle readiness plan. None of ODOT's 12 projects are specific to Cuyahoga County.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN featured a spirited debate about municipal revenue sharing and the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative. The guests were Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley, Aurora Mayor Lynn McGill, and Professor Tom Bier, who recently wrote an op-ed about ideas for improving Northeast Ohio's older cities.

The Chagrin Solon Sun summarized former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell's recent talk at South Franklin Circle (DOC) about regionalism.

Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal was disappointed by the modest scope of the government collaborations in the recently-concluded EfficientGovNow competition. He believes that revenue constraints will compel more intergovernmental cooperation, and that "for some smaller units, survival may well depend on their willingness to collaborate."

On Wednesday, the Fund for Our Economic Future announced the winners in the second round of the EfficientGovNow program. The projects that received the most votes were the land bank for Mahoning County, 911 dispatch for Stark County, and the renewable energy SID in Cuyahoga County. The Fund also chose to fund a multi-county GIS cooperative. The four projects will share $331,420 in grants. Voters cast more than 17,400 ballots.

Update: Channel 3 described the Renewable Energy Special Improvement District in Cuyahoga County, while editorials in the Repository and Plain Dealer praised the competition.

Bill Purcell, the former mayor of Nashville, spoke about regionalism and city-county consolidations at South Franklin Circle in Chagrin Falls. He also spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman.

Representatives of each of the 10 finalists in the EfficientGovNow competition described their projects on the Sound of Ideas this morning. The Mahoning County Land Bank project continues to lead the voting, which concludes on May 31.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial praises the initiative.

GreenCityBlueLake reported on the recent "Rebuilding the Cities that Built America" conference in Youngstown, and the Vindicator summarized Dan Kildee's remarks.

The city councils of Solon and Twinsburg approved a memorandum of understanding that calls for cooperation on business relocations that involve incentives. Officials hope to reach similar agreements with other neighboring communities.

Backers of the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative recently presented its regional planning and tax-base sharing concepts to local officials at a meeting in Fairview Park. The Initiative was also the subject of a debate in Hudson.

Update: organizers delivered a similar message in Shaker Heights.

Update 2: a Sun News editorial supports the initiative.

As of Wednesday, the Mahoning County Land Bank project was leading the voting in the EfficientGovNow program. The 10 competing finalists are promoting their entries to potential voters. In Cuyahoga County, the Sun Press described the solar power project, while the Sun Star Courier wrote about the road salt project.

The Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh Regional Learning Network will hold a conference in Youngstown on May 21. Titled "Rebuilding The Cities That Built America," it will feature workshops, speakers, and other events. Hunter Morrison wrote about the megapolitan area that some call the Tech Belt.

Two state legislators from Greater Cleveland intend to introduce legislation that would make it easier for communities to collaborate on municipal services. The changes would allow the City of South Euclid to contract with the City of Cleveland for trash collection. Cleveland may be able provide the service at a lower cost than a private company.

The Regional Prosperity Initiative's tax base sharing proposal has its supporters and detractors. WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with a backer and a critic.

Public voting in the second round of the EfficientGovNow competition began on Saturday and will continue through May 31. Two of the 10 finalists are projects in Cuyahoga County: a solar power project in Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs, and a road salt collaboration for four south side suburbs.

Citing a need to focus on budget issues, the Village of Pepper Pike withdrew from further study of regional cooperation with neighboring Moreland Hills and Orange. Mayor Renda of Moreland Hills and Mayor Mulcahy of Orange said that the decision puts collaboration plans on hold.

Update: the communities shelved the regionalism study.

Ed FitzGerald, the mayor of Lakewood and a candidate for Cuyahoga County Executive, proposed establishing a county Office of Regional Collaboration. It would have a cabinet-level director and would encourage collaboration (PDF) within the county and the region.

There are now 27 proposals for governmental collaborations in the second round of the EfficientGovNow grant program. The Fund for Our Economic Future will announce the finalists on April 30 and public voting will begin on May 1.

A study that Baldwin-Wallace College prepared for Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, and Pepper Pike says that the communities could save money by by consolidating their police, dispatch services, and service departments. The mayors of Moreland Hills, Orange, and Pepper Pike are willing to consider municipal mergers, and hope to obtain an EfficientGovNow grant to study the possibility. A Chagrin Solon Sun editorial said that the idea is worth considering.

Organizers of the EfficientGovNow program disqualified 19 of the submitted abstracts, and the backers of the 31 remaining projects will be invited to submit final proposals.

WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with organizers and applicants in round two of the EfficientGovNow regionalism program, and Bob Paynter classified the 50 applications. The finalists will be announced on April 30 and public voting will occur in May.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson delivered his fifth State of the City address on Thursday. He announced that a Chinese LED manufacturer will locate its American headquarters in Cleveland, talked about the City's sustainability initiatives, and proposed the creation of a countywide education authority. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "the kind of big thinking this region needs." The speech is available as text (PDF) and as audio.

In his two newest columns, Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal looked at policy recommendations from the Restoring Prosperity report released by Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution. He first discussed school district consolidation and the reactions of political leaders. In the second piece, he looked at the costs of local government fragmentation and the prospects for reorganizing local government. Greater Ohio officials and state legislators also recently discussed the report at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

Local governments in the 16-county Northeast Ohio region submitted 50 projects in the second round of the EfficientGovNow grant program. Sixteen of the applications are from Cuyahoga County communities, including a proposal from Moreland Hills, Orange Village, and Pepper Pike that would fund implementation of a forthcoming municipal collaboration study.

Update: organizers encourage public input on the project ideas.

On Monday, Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution unveiled the latest report in their Restoring Prosperity initiative. Titled "Transforming Ohio's Communities for the Next Economy", the report and executive summary (PDFs) lay out a policy agenda aimed at reinvigorating the state. It makes 39 short, medium, and long-term policy recommendations in three main areas: building on assets in Ohio's metropolitan areas, reforming state and local governments, and engaging and aligning with the federal government. One of its more discussed recommendations calls for consolidating Ohio school districts. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the report "belongs at the center of this campaign year", and a Morning Journal editorial said that its "recommendations deserve careful consideration and study."

Update: the Plain Dealer was also encouraged by the report.

Northeast Ohio governments have so far submitted five projects in the second round of the EfficientGovNow program. The application deadline is February 26. Journalist Bob Paynter will be writing about the process.

The Plain Dealer explored the reasons behind the Cleveland Foundation's decision to greatly reduce its contributions to the Fund for Our Economic Future and the choice's subsequent repercussions. Brent Larkin thinks that the decision was harmful to regional collaboration.

On Thursday, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District unanimously approved the new stormwater management program. The district has identified more than $220 million of critical stormwater projects, which will be financed by the new impervious surface fee. Once the board adopted the plan, NEORSD asked the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to confirm the district's authority to implement the plan.

On Friday, Tom Waltermire of Team NEO and Brad Whitehead of the Fund for our Economic Future spoke at the City Club about economic forecasting over the next decade. Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg moderated the discussion. They stressed that greater collaboration could increase opportunities for economic growth.

Despite a reduction in support from the Cleveland Foundation, the Fund for Our Economic Future is proceeding with plans for its third phase, and recently received a $3 million grant from the Knight Foundation to support local government reform efforts. The Fund also launched round two the the EfficientGovNow program yesterday. Local governments have until February 26 to submit a proposal for a collaborative project for the competition. The Fund listed 10 ways that residents can support the program.

Update: the Fund shared more information about the Knight Foundation grant.

A Plain Dealer article says that we have "entered the decade of the Super Region." Richard Longworth of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs says it makes sense for neighboring metropolitan areas to work together. Others, especially Aaron Renn, approach the concept of megaregions with more skepticism. Governing's Alan Ehrenhalt thinks that their value has been overstated.

Today's News-Herald has a brief update on the activities of the Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's board is expected to vote on the proposed stormwater management program on January 7. If the board approves the proposal, collection of a new impervious surface fee would begin in July. The district is also preparing for legal challenges of its authority to implement the fee. A Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a fair plan that the sewer district board should approve in January."

Update: the Bath Township Trustees oppose the initiative.

The Cleveland Foundation awarded $15 million in fourth-quarter grants. One of the largest awards was a $1 million grant to Team NEO. The foundation substantially reduced its commitment to the Fund for Our Economic Future, awarding $300,000 for its third phase. The Fund had requested $10 million for the three-year phase. The Gund Foundation gave $4.9 million in grants, including awards to Entrepreneurs for Sustainability and ParkWorks. The two foundations distributed fewer dollars in 2009 than in 2008.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial expressed concern about the Cleveland Foundation's decision to give less to the Fund for Our Economic Future.

The Akron Beacon Journal has more details about the dispute in Summit County about NEORSD's proposed stormwater management program. In neighboring Portage County, Aurora leaders are considering a stormwater fee.

Leaders in Summit County are banding together to oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed stormwater management program. County officials may file a lawsuit against the sewer district.

The Fund for Our Economic Future approved a second round of the EfficientGovNow program today. The Fund's Brad Whitehead described reactions to the first round in an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed.

Update: up to $330,000 will be awarded to governmental collaborations. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports the program.

The Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration will hold a meeting and public hearing on Friday morning in the Cleveland Public Library's Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium. The Commission is gathering input (PDF) on intergovernmental cooperation. Testimony should be submitted in advance.

More than 100 people attended the last of five public meetings about the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program. Some residents objected to the new stormwater fee it would entail.

Update: leaders in Summit County remain opposed to the program.

The tax sharing component of the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to draw opposition in Lake County. The Initiative issued an interim revenue sharing report (PDF) in September.

Kent State University surveyed participants in the EfficientGovNow process. The majority of respondents said that they are advancing on the regionalism initiatives identified as part of the competition.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will hold five public meetings this month (PDF) about the proposed regional stormwater district. The first meeting will be in Mayfield Heights at the DeJohn Community Center on November 9.

Election recap

Broadview Heights
Issue 12 (commercial rezoning): passed

Cleveland
Issue 17 (Planning Commission alternates): passed

Solon
Issue 83 (retail rezoning): passed

The proposed Olmsted Falls-Olmsted Township Merger Study Commission passed in Olmsted Falls (Issue 58), but failed in Olmsted Township (Issue 103).

For complete results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Sunday's Plain Dealer included several opinion pieces on the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's proposed relocation. Former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison said that the planning efforts "should look beyond the corporate limits of Cleveland and include all of the region's industrial port assets—including the ports of Lorain, Grand River, Ashtabula and Conneaut". Adam Wasserman and Steven Williams of the Port Authority said that the facts support the planned move, and released a draft of the Port's five-year maritime business plan (PDF). Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and mayoral candidate Bill Patmon also weighed in.

Voters in Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township will decide whether or not to create a commission that would study the potential for a merger of the two communities. It is Issue 58 in Olmsted Falls and Issue 103 in Olmsted Township.

Greater Ohio, building on input provided at June's Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit, has prepared a draft of its Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Policy Platform and is gathering comments and suggestions. The document will serve as a model for platforms for other Ohio cities.

Baldwin-Wallace College is preparing a study on municipal collaboration for leaders in Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, and Pepper Pike. It should be completed by November.

The proposed Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to generate mixed reactions. Some leaders in Wayne County support the concept, while others have doubts.

GreenCityBlueLake and Rust Wire summarized aspects of this week's German Marshall Fund workshop.

On Friday, NOACA's Governing Board approved changes to its membership. The weighted voting provision was removed, and six new members were added. The new seats on the 44-member board went to the cities of Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Lakewood, and Parma, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and the Medina County Engineer. Under the previous rules, Cuyahoga County representatives controlled 50% of the votes in an unweighted vote and 62.5% of the votes in a weighted vote. Cuyahoga County members now make up 54.5% of the board, while Cuyahoga County's population is 61% of the five-county region. The Governing Board also narrowly approved a rule that requires its president and vice president to be elected officeholders.

The Fund for Our Economic Future is considering a second round of funding for the EfficientGovNow program and is gathering feedback from first round participants.

Update: the survey results are now available.

On September 14 and 15, the German Marshall Fund will host a Great Lakes Regionalism & Economic Development Workshop at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs. Attendees will "examine the concept of regionalism, how regional identities are fostered, and how regional strategies can help promote economic development."

(via GLUE)

The Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association has taken no action on the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative since it was presented to members in April. Painesville City Manager Rita McMahon expects that building consensus will be difficult.

A Plain Dealer editorial about the EfficientGovNow awards says that they "demonstrate just how far this region has to go when it comes to government collaboration and also how much low-hanging fruit is within reach of communities", while a Sun Post-Herald editorial says that the proposed Westshore Regional Fire District "could not be more timely."

One Olmsted, a group of Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township residents, is circulating a petition for a merger study. They hope to place the study on the November ballot.

The Fund for Our Economic Future announced the three winners of EfficientGovNow grants today. The Mahoning River Corridor Redevelopment will receive $57,451, the Westshore Regional Fire District will receive $100,000, and the Mahoning-Youngstown Regional Information System will receive $120,000. The Fund's Chris Thompson said that the government efficiency program "has helped the region take another step in its progress toward a more vibrant economic future."

Update: the awards attracted media attention from across Northeast Ohio.

Today is the final opportunity to cast a vote in the EfficientGovNow program. As of yesterday, the Westshore Regional Fire District project was in first place.

The six Cuyahoga County cities in the Westshore Council of Governments and the City of North Ridgeville hired Emergency Services Consulting International to study the proposed Westshore Regional Fire District. The proposal is one of nine finalists in the EfficientGovNow grant competition.

The Fund for Our Economic Future announced the nine finalists in the $300,000 EfficientGovNow grant program. Up to three of the governmental collaboration projects will be funded. The only finalist in Cuyahoga County is the proposed Westshore Regional Fire District. Public voting on the proposals opened today and will continue until the end of the month.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information, and editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal say that area residents should cast a vote.

A Bainbridge Township Trustee said that the Township would be willing to reconsider the proposed JEDD for the Marketplace at Four Corners area, if the City of Aurora will pay the entire $1.2 million sought by the McGill Property Group.

Update: Aurora leaders remain interested in the JEDD.

South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo, University Heights Councilman Kevin Patrick Murphy, and Cleveland Heights Councilman Mark Tumeo spoke at a panel discussion on regionalism last week.

The Brookings Institution posted the text of Bruce Katz's remarks at the recent Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit.

Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future encourages Northeast Ohio residents to participate in the EfficientGovNow grant program, which will open to public voting on July 1.

Over 400 people attended the Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit on Monday. Keynote speaker Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution made suggestions for improving Ohio's competitiveness through government reform, and urged state leaders to target investments in urban areas instead of spreading them around "like peanut butter."

About 60 people attended a Regional Prosperity Initiative meeting in Warrensville Heights today. Mayor Currin of Hudson said that the group hopes to introduce a revenue sharing and regional land use planning proposal by September.

A Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit will be held at Cleveland State on June 8. The event is part of the Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative of the Brookings Institution and Greater Ohio. The Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz will be the keynote speaker.

The proposed seven-city Westshore Regional Fire District is one of the projects competing for funding through the EfficientGovNow program. The Westshore Council of Governments would use the money to conduct a six-month study of the concept.

Update: the COG is interviewing consultants for the study.

Backers of the Regional Prosperity Initiative continue to promote the concept to area officials, but two Lorain County mayors are concerned that it would not help their communities. Supporters will convene additional meetings in the coming weeks.

Update: WKSU shared more information about the initiative. A Morning Journal editorial calls for more details.

The Plain Dealer offers more details about the entries in the EfficientGovNow grant competition. Public voting will begin on July 1.

Of the 65 projects submitted to the EfficientGovNow grant program last month, 45 met the qualifications to proceed. Expanded abstracts and proposals are now available for reading and comments. Complete proposals must be submitted by May 31.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Mayor Beryl Rothschild of University Heights says that her city would gain "absolutely nothing" from a merger with Cleveland Heights.

Author David Osborne spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman about the challenges to increasing municipal cooperation.

Update: Mr. Osborne also spoke about government collaborations at the City Club.

Members of the Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association are skeptical about the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and question the need for regional revenue sharing. The Regional Prosperity Initiative will hold its first monthly webinar on May 1.

University Circle Incorporated President Chris Ronayne wrote a Plain Dealer op-ed in which he calls on local leaders to adopt a smart growth strategy that includes city-county consolidation, regional tax sharing, and changes to state policies that enable urban sprawl.

Council members from Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights will meet next week to discuss a possible application to the EfficientGovNow program.

Update: the cities probably will not apply for a grant.

Cleveland Heights Councilman Mark Tumeo's suggestion to begin talks about a possible merger of Cleveland Heights and University Heights continues to elicit a wide variety of reactions.

Editorials in the Plain Dealer and the Canton Repository are upbeat about the projects submitted to the EfficientGovNow program.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial is also positive about the news.

The Fund for Our Economic Future received 65 project abstracts for proposed government collaborations across the 16-county Northeast Ohio region. The projects are competing for $300,000 in grants available through the EfficientGovNow program. The next stage is the public comment period, which will begin on May 1.

Prompted by the recent proposal from Cleveland Heights Councilman Mark Tumeo, this morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of municipal mergers and collaborations. Mayor Rothschild of University Heights remains strongly opposed to the concept.

Aurora City Council voted to begin a "meaningful dialogue" about the proposed Aurora-Bainbridge JEDD, but the Bainbridge Township Trustees rejected the proposal by a vote of 2-1.

Cleveland Heights Councilman Mark Tumeo said he has received good feedback about his proposal to begin examining a potential Cleveland Heights-University Heights merger. He also advocated for the concept in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

At a recent University Heights Charter Review Commission meeting, a Cleveland Heights councilman introduced a proposal to begin discussing a possible merger of the two cities. The Charter Review Commission did not comment on the topic, but Mayor Rothschild of University Heights is not interested. Mayor Kelley of Cleveland Heights has raised the subject of combining fire departments.

As part of their proposal to create an Aurora-Bainbridge Township JEDD, officials with shopping center developers McGill Property Group are seeking $600,000 from Bainbridge Township and $600,000 from the City of Aurora.

Most Greater Cleveland communities are not taking a regional approach with their requests for federal stimulus funds. However, Mayor Kelley of Cleveland Heights recently suggested combining his city's fire department with those of Shaker Heights and University Heights.

Leaders in North Olmsted and Westlake are ready to enter the second phase of a study on creating a water district. The cties are contemplating a switch in water providers, from Cleveland to Avon Lake. Mayor Clough says the cost to buy water would be 75% less.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that attempting to obtain "federal money to get out from under the Cleveland water system smacks of a political ploy."

Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair continues to lobby for changing the NOACA Governing Board's weighted voting provision.

Hudson Mayor William Currin, chairman of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association, wrote in a Plain Dealer op-ed that now is the time for regional cooperation in Northeast Ohio, and announced the new Regional Prosperity Initiative. The new initiative promotes regional land use planning and revenue sharing as ways to achieve a prosperous future.

Leaders of emergency and safety departments in Lake and Geauga counties have mixed reactions to regionalism initiatives.

A Plain Dealer editorial on regionalism in Northeast Ohio says that "collaboration and reform are nothing less than economic imperatives" and that local autonomy is "a luxury governments cannot afford and taxpayers cannot tolerate."

On Thursday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson made his fourth annual State of the City Address, titled "It's Our Time (PDF): Bucking National Trends and Building for Tomorrow". He spoke optimistically about the budget, quality of life issues, economic development, and the regional economy. He also called for a more regional approach to education. WKYC has video of the speech, and WTAM posted the audio. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey liveblogged the event.

The Fund for Our Economic Future officially unveiled the $300,000 EfficientGovNow grant program on Monday. Local governments in a 16-county Northeast Ohio area can apply for funding of government collaboration and efficiency projects. The deadline for submitting project abstracts is April 15, and final proposals are due by May 31. Finalists will be announced on July 1, and public voting will end on July 31. WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with the Fund's Chris Thompson, and WKYC's Tom Beres spoke with Brad Whitehead about the program.

WCPN shared more details about the Fund for Our Economic Future's upcoming government collaboration and efficiency grant program.

Update: the Fund will launch the program on Monday.

Parma and Parma Heights leaders continue to work with Baldwin-Wallace College on a proposal to combine the cities' fire departments. The College is expected to present a recommendation within 30 days.

Solon leaders do not want the City to be part of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program, saying that the City is already working control flooding. Macedonia officials had expressed a similar sentiment, but now appear to be more open to participating in a regional effort.

Seven Summit County communities have signed a pledge to not steal businesses from each other. Summit County made the agreement more attractive by tying it into the scoring system for awarding public works funds.

CPC Director Paul Alsenas and Frank Greenland of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District were the guests on yesterday's Sound of Ideas show, where they discussed the District's proposed stormwater management plan.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District board did not vote on the proposal to take responsibility for managing stormwater at a regional level. District staff will continue to promote the concept in the 61-community service area, and the board may pass the proposal in late summer or early fall. A Plain Dealer editorial agrees with their conclusion.

On Thursday (PDF), the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will discuss the regional stormwater management role proposed for the agency. The increase in responsibilities would be accompanied by new fees, which have been controversial, especially in light of the continued increases in sewer rates.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake answers questions about regional stormwater management.

The McGill Property Group wants the Bainbridge-Solon JEDD to be expanded to include the company's Shops at Marketplace development in Bainbridge. The JEDD currently encompasses McGill's Marketplace North center.

Update: McGill also proposed establishing a new Aurora-Bainbridge JEDD.

Congressmen Tim Ryan and Jason Altmire talked about the Cleveland to Pittsburgh Tech Belt Initiative at the City Club today. Congressman Ryan said that the collaboration will allow the region to leverage federal dollars.

Update: audio of the talk (MP3, 127 MB) is now online.

The Fund for Our Economic Future's 2008 Barometer of Economic Attitudes survey included questions about regionalism. Of the 2300 Northeast Ohioans surveyed, 82% favored increased government collaborations, and 67% favored government consolidations. In March, the Fund will introduce a $300,000 grant program for government collaboration and efficiency programs. Area residents will be able to vote on the recipients. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "investment will pay off if it sparks creative thinking among local governments and engages the public in the exercise." Earlier surveys were conducted in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

The Hudson Library and Historical Society is sponsoring three programs on regionalism in January and February. The first event will be held on January 29. It is titled "What is the economic future for Northeast Ohio?" and will include an overview of the Advance Northeast Ohio initiative. The programs are free and open to the public.

The 15-member Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration held its first meeting on Monday. The panel is charged with developing "recommendations on ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of local government operations, to achieve cost savings for taxpayers, and to facilitate economic development in this state."

Armond Budish, the new Speaker of the Ohio House, outlined his urban agenda yesterday, calling for the creation of a compact with Ohio cities. In exchange for providing special incentives for urban areas, he wants cities to participate in regionalism initiatives.

Update: three state legislators discussed the proposal and other issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

Olmsted Falls Mayor Bob Blomquist and Olmsted Township Trustee Jim Carroll want to create a committee that would study a merger between the two communities. Mayor Blomquist hopes that a merger study will be placed on the ballot this year.

The Fund for Our Economic Future approved $1.2 million in new grants, including $300,000 for a new government efficiency initiative, $250,000 for Team NEO, and $106,300 for Cleveland State University to produce the 2009 Dashboard of Economic Indicators.

Update: the government efficiency program will have two elements: grants for intergovernmental collaboration, and a public engagement component.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that cooperation through the Tech Belt Initiative between Cleveland and Pittsburgh "is already beginning to pay off."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Lee Kamps says that Greater Cleveland's fragmented system of local government is wasteful, and that "we need to form some kind of metropolitan government with one mayor, one City Council, one Police Department and one Fire Department."

Although the proposed regional fire district has dwindled from seven cities to two, Mayor Zanotti of Parma Heights intends to proceed with the concept. He hopes that Parma and Parma Heights will be ready to implement the plan in January 2010.

Mayor Kurtz of Independence proposed the creation of the Southern Suburban Communities Council, an organization that would facilitate cooperation among eight suburban municipalities in southern Cuyahoga County.

The proposed seven-city joint fire district is down to two communities now that Brook Park has pulled out of the the study. The Cities of Parma and Parma Heights are the only remaining participants.

Officials from northern Summit County formed a working group to discuss whether they will oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's plans for a regional stormwater management program.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Tom Bier says that Cleveland will need the support of the region if it is to succeed, and that "it could be essentially gone" if regional leaders fail to cooperate. In a second Plain Dealer op-ed, law student Christopher Thomas explains why Cleveland can be an attractive destination for young professionals.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's plans for a regional stormwater management program are controversial in northern Summit County. Some leaders worry that money from their communities will be directed to projects in Cuyahoga County.

On Thursday, the mayors of Hudson and Boston Heights signed an memorandum of understanding. It marks the start of a joint effort to coordinate the development of about 650 acres along the border of the two communities.

Update: the Hudson Hub Times provides more details.

Following the failure of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District's levy, its board will "continue to study other options and wait and see what the cities would like to do."

The City of Middleburg Heights withdrew from the regional fire district proposed for southwest Cuyahoga County. A revised proposal reduced the number of participating cities from seven to four due to the City of Berea's earlier withdrawal (which automatically eliminated Olmsted Falls) and a lack of interest from Brooklyn leaders. Officials in Brook Park, Parma, and Parma Heights are reviewing the revised plan.

The chambers of commerce for the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown areas rolled out the Tech Belt Initiative, an economic development strategy intended to help the region transition to a knowledge-based economy.

Update: the Plain Dealer offers more information.

The Supplemental School Revenue Committee in Valley View agreed on a proposal for replacing lost income to the Cuyahoga Heights Schools caused by the move of Safeguard Properties. The agreement, which will be presented to Village Council, calls for sharing income taxes collected from the company.

The Ohio Department of Development announced the 15 recipients of Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grants, including six projects in Northeast Ohio. The cities of Cleveland and Parma were the awardees in Cuyahoga County. Initiatives of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association and the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium were not selected for awards.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio say that "Ohio policies stack the deck against core communities, systematically favoring the growth of new places over the redevelopment of older ones and failing to leverage the assets in these places in any coherent way" and that state programs and policies should "identify and build on the key assets that drive prosperity in the places where they occur."

If passed by voters in Berea, Brook Park, and Middleburg Heights, the 1 mill continuing levy of Issue 136 will provide funds to construct and maintain new facilities for the Tri-City Senior Center. Many elected officials in Berea and Brook Park are opposed to the issue.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is planning to hold a series of community meetings at which it will present its plans for a regional stormwater management program.

Summit County leaders are asking the County's 31 cities, villages, and townships to adopt a revenue sharing agreement. It calls for revenue sharing in cases where large employers move from one Summit County community to another, or when financial incentives are used to induce a relocation.

Statewide smart growth advocacy organization Greater Ohio recently started a weblog. It's intended to "act as a forum for discussion and commentary on Restoring Prosperity policy proposals & innovative local initiatives."

Several cities and villages in northern Summit County have rejected the City of Cleveland's water main maintenance and no poaching proposal.

The Fund for Our Economic Future awarded a grant of as much as $1.5 million to NorTech, the technology advocacy group that recently narrowed its focus, and gave up to $600,000 to the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association for support of its work on revenue sharing and regional planning.

Update: the Twinsburg Bulletin has more information about the award to the Mayors & City Managers Association.

Members of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association promoted the organization's regionalism efforts at a Regional Chamber conference in Boardman last week.

(via Pass the Plus)

Macedonia officials are not interested in participating in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program.

In addition to the proposed southwest Cuyahoga County regional fire district, the cities of Bay Village, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Rocky River, and Westlake have begun exploring the formation of a joint fire district.

The Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium is seeking funding from the state's Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grant Program for a new study.

Andrew Macurak writes that the U.S. Census Bureau's ranking of poorest and wealthiest cities is flawed, because it does not account for cities that have absorbed their suburbs, city-county consolidations, and similar situations. He suggests that a comparison of counties would more accurately depict the distribution of wealth.

(via Kaid Benfield)

A Plain Dealer editorial supports the efforts of state leaders to craft more effective urban policies, and says that "Ohio's economy won't be healthy until its cities do better."

Mayor Westfall of Valley View formed the Supplemental School Revenue Committee. The committee is charged with finding ways to replace the loss of tax revenue to the Cuyahoga Heights Schools caused by the move of Safeguard Properties.

Over 1,000 people attended the Restoring Our Prosperity Policy Summit in Columbus yesterday to discuss the economic competitiveness of Ohio's cities. A recurring theme of the initiative, a project of the Brookings Institution and Greater Ohio, was the need for intergovernmental partnerships.

A preliminary report issued in conjunction with the event says that "state policies have failed to keep pace with the changing dynamics of today's social, environmental, and economic reality" and identifies strategies for reinvigorating Ohio's 32 "core communities". The final report will be delivered in January.

Brook Park City Council has begun discussing the proposed seven city regional fire district. Some members appear to favor a more modest regional dispatching center as an alternative.

Valley View Village Council approved a tax break for a company it hopes will move from Brooklyn Heights. Mayor Procuk of Brooklyn Heights appears to have dropped his objections.

Update: Mayor Procuk said he has "cooled down a bit".

The mayor of Brooklyn Heights accused the mayor of Valley View of stealing a business by offering the company a tax break to relocate to Valley View. The Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association approved a nonbinding no-poaching resolution in 2006. Valley View Village Council is scheduled to vote on the incentives on Tuesday.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial encourages the public and local leaders to pressure Valley View officials to drop their plans.

The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association is preparing to move into the second phase of the Regional Economic Revenue Study. The City of Hudson and the Village of Richfield will apply for funding from Ohio's Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grant Program to support the study.

Backers of the proposed seven city regional fire district are waiting for leaders in the southwest Cuyahoga County communities to decide if they want to continue their participation. The City of Berea may opt out of the process, which could affect the involvement of Olmsted Falls.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the new cost of government study is a "welcome invitation to address boldly the redeployment of resources."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Northeast Ohio's redundant and wasteful government structures…erode the very competitiveness of our economy."

The Center for Governmental Research completed a study for the Fund for Our Economic Future about the cost of government in 16 Northeast Ohio counties. Researchers compiled 1992, 1997, and 2002 Census data to compare Northeast Ohio with selected regions elsewhere in the state and nation. They reported that "while the cost of local government in Northeast Ohio as measured by expenditures per capita was not strikingly different from the other regions examined, there were wide variations in the cost of government when comparing individual counties within Northeast Ohio." Executive summaries, Census data, and data tables are available online.

Update: the Plain Dealer compared Solon with Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Also, WCPN's Sound of Ideas hosted a discussion of the study.

The CREW Cleveland Conference (PDF) on August 18 will focus on economic development, regionalism, and internationalism. The keynote speaker will be Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. Online registration is available.

By a vote of 10-4, the board of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District decided to put a 1 mill, five-year levy on the November ballot in Berea, Brook Park, and Middleburg Heights. The board's president says that it would raise enough money to demolish and replace the existing Tri-City Senior Center and cover operating expenses and programming.

An editorial in today's Plain Dealer says that the proposed seven city joint fire district "should not be abandoned simply because some with parochial interests are voicing concerns."

Chris Ronayne of University Circle Inc. is interested in creating an "uptown community alliance" that would market Shaker Heights "as housing stock in University Circle."

The fire chiefs of seven cities in southwest Cuyahoga County wrote a seven page letter listing their concerns about the proposed seven city joint district. They suggested a more gradual approach, starting with a two or three city district.

Yesterday, the Fund for Our Economic Future awarded four grants totaling $4.98 million to spur regional economic development efforts. The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association received $50,000 for further analysis of revenue sharing and regional land use planning through the Regional Economic Revenue Study.

The new issue of the Heights Observer includes a look at the Severance Center area, an essay on the prospects of a Cleveland Heights-University Heights merger, and more details about the transportation and streetscape planning process in the Cedar-Fairmount district. The City of Cleveland Heights is currently conducting a stakeholder survey.

North Randall officials are preparing for the financial repercussions from the impending closure of Randall Park Mall, which accounts for 33% of the Village's general fund. Mayor Smith asked the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office for assistance with late-night patrols.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that this is "a textbook case of why we need" a regional approach to governing.

Richfield Mayor Michael Lyons, Medina Commissioner Stephen Hambley, and Myron Orfield were the guests on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas show, where they discussed the regionalism initiative of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association. Many local mayors and councilmembers support the concept, but some, like those in Solon, remain wary about the idea.

The board of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District established a committee that will study the options for a proposed levy that would fund the Tri-City Senior Center.

Leaders in Summit County are preparing a plan for a countywide revenue sharing program. Summit County Executive Russ Pry discussed the idea with a group of Summit County mayors yesterday.

North Royalton leaders met with Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer district officials to discuss the agency's plans for a regional stormwater management program.

Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Development announced the creation of the new Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grant Program, which will make $900,000 available to local governments that are interested in studying regional cooperation. The application deadline is July 29.

Recent Plain Dealer editorials praise the regionalism agenda of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association and the Cleveland District of Design collaboration. An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal says that "the Republican majority in the Ohio Senate stands strikingly alone" in its opposition to the Great Lakes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, while an editorial in the Plain Dealer says that the opposition may be breaking down.

Update: an editorial in the Beacon Journal is also positive about the regionalism initiative.

Some elected officials in Brooklyn reacted skeptically to the plans for combining the fire departments of seven southwest Cuyahoga County cities.

The City of Garfield Heights may withdraw from the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County because of cost concerns.

Mayors in the 16 county Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association yesterday voted to accept the recommendations of phase one of the Regional Economic Revenue Study and to move forward with its second phase. The report (summary, PDF; full report, PDF) calls for revenue sharing and regional land use planning. The effort differs from previous attempts because it has backing from suburban as well as big city officials. While the group's members overwhelmingly endorsed the plan, some Lorain County leaders expressed skepticism about the concept.

Members of the Cuyahoga Valley Regional Council of Governments have begun discussing the possibility of collaborating on watershed-wide stormwater planning efforts.

Baldwin-Wallace College completed a study about merging the fire departments of seven cities in southwest Cuyahoga County. Councilmembers learned about the recommendations at a meeting yesterday evening, and a second meeting will be held tonight.

The planned move of a company from Macedonia to Hudson has created skepticism among some Northeast Ohio leaders about the local potential for revenue sharing. Advance Northeast Ohio says that the move illustrates the challenges of negotiating individual revenue sharing deals and the need for a regional approach.

This year's Richard Shatten Public Policy Case Competition looked at the future of the former Coast Guard station at Whiskey Island. Cleveland officials have been discussing the possibility of turning the station into an environmental history interpretive center with a small restaurant.

A bill introduced in the Ohio House would establish the Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration, a temporary state commission that would examine ways to cut costs and increase efficiency by reforming and restructuring local government.

Next month, the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association will vote on whether to pursue recommendations identified in the Regional Economic Revenue Study. Chairman William Currin, the mayor of Hudson, declined to identify the recommendations (PDF) prior to the meeting.

At Friday's NOACA Governing Board meeting, staff members described four ways that the agency could pursue (PDF) a regional economic development agenda: creating a land use vision for the region, writing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy consistent with federal EDA guidelines, compiling an inventory of local development projects, or developing regional economic development policies. Board members from Lorain and Medina Counties continue to hope that changes in the agency's scope will lead to revisions of the weighted voting provision.

Elected leaders from across a 16 county Northeast Ohio region signaled their willingness to pursue regional land use planning and revenue sharing. Details will be released at a May 15 meeting of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association.

The Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County will take over Middleburg Heights' senior transportation operations by April 15. The City anticipates savings of nearly $20,000 a year.

The City of Maple Heights is dropping out of the regional Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office. It's the first government entity to leave the group, which was co-founded by former Mayor Michael Ciaravino.

Moreland Hills City Council has begun discussing the water main maintenance and no poaching proposal offered by the City of Cleveland.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership published its 2008-2011 Strategic Plan (PDF). Among its suggestions is lobbying for funding of three major projects: the Port of Cleveland's relocation, the Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland, and a new runway for NASA's Plum Brook Station in Erie County. It also calls for closer ties with Akron.

With Rob Briggs of the GAR Foundation stepping down as chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future, David Abbott of the Gund Foundation was elected to succeed him. The fund also awarded several grants.

Rob Briggs of the GAR Foundation will step down as chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future next month.

The website for the Regional Economic Revenue Study has been updated with a series of video interviews with Myron Orfield about regional planning and revenue sharing.

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

Mayor Welo of South Euclid is optimistic about the future of the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council, and hopes to obtain federal or state funding for the proposed regional recreation center.

After withdrawing from the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County last year, the Cities of Berea, Brook Park, and Strongsville reverted to their former municipal transportation systems. Middleburg Heights, on the other hand, will continue its participation in the Senior Transportation Connection.

Instead of eliminating the controversial weighted voting provision, NOACA board members are discussing a proposal that would make it more difficult to use.

Mayor Brewer of East Cleveland says that his City's water main agreement with the City of Cleveland will lower residents' water bills by about a third.

Update: WKYC and WTAM have additional information.

The newly formed Tri-City Joint Recreation District will not have a tax levy on the March ballot because the board has not yet held a meeting. Its first meeting will be held on January 14.

NOACA board members continue to discuss the weighted voting provision. Officials from Lorain and Medina Counties remain opposed to retaining the weighted vote.

Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren presented Mayor Jackson's regional economic development platform. Speaking before a City Club audience, he said that the keys to a strong region are a supporting a strong central city, helping cities cooperate for economic growth, making certain not to overlook individual talents, and protecting the environment. Channel 3 has video of the event.

Update: the City Club posted a podcast of the talk (MP3, 24.2 MB).

Planning for the seven city southwest Cuyahoga County Fire Services Efficiency Project continues to move forward, but the high level of complexity means that a plan will not be ready as soon as some had hoped.

Last week, WCPN examined regionalism and spoke with local leaders, took a look at Louisville's model, and recapped Thursday's episode of Ideas. The station also had outgoing Mayors Michael Ciaravino of Maple Heights and Judy Rawson of Shaker Heights as guests on The Sound of Ideas, where among other topics, they spoke out against business poaching and tax abatement.

Another Sound of Ideas show earlier in the week was devoted to a discussion of the Brookings Institution's new Blueprint for American Prosperity, with guests Bruce Katz, Ed Morrison, and Mark Rosentraub.

Chris Warren, the City of Cleveland's Chief of Regional Development, will speak at the City Club on December 4 about the Jackson administration's platform for development.

While voters in Berea and Brook Park approved the creation of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District, some councilmen in the two cities remain vocally opposed to a tax to support the Tri-City Senior Center.

The South Euclid-Lyndhurst Board of Education decided to not join the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council "at this time", instead choosing to concentrate on passing an operating levy in March.

At Friday's NOACA Governing Board meeting, officials from Lorain and Medina Counties reiterated their intention to leave the MPO unless it removes the weighed voting provision. Cuyahoga County officials have said that they're willing to negotiate, but Peter Lawson Jones said that any change must recognize that Cuyahoga County "is significantly larger than the other four" counties. The Governing Board decided to allow the Executive Committee until March to devise a solution to the controversy.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the region shares responsibility for protecting the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and that park officials have made a compelling case for cooperation.

The Medina County Commissioners joined the Lorain County Commissioners in asking NOACA to consider eliminating weighted voting.

Mayor Sutherland's Friday City Club talk about regionalism is available for download as a podcast (MP3, 26.2 MB).

The Lorain County Commissioners today asked NOACA to eliminate the weighted voting provision from the bylaws regulating its Governing Board. Meanwhile, Chris Thompson responded to yesterday's Morning Journal editorial, saying, "We need to fix our system, not break up the region."

(Update: The Chronicle-Telegram presents more details.)

Avon City Council adopted a resolution approving the joint economic development zone that was stipulated in the Nagel Road I-90 interchange agreement. Membership in the zone is open to 15 other Cuyahoga and Lorain County communities.

(Update: The Morning Journal also published an article and an editorial.)

The Cities of Berea, Brook Park, and Strongsville decided to withdraw from the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County and will revert to their former municipal senior transportation systems.

On November 2, Mayor Deborah Sutherland of Bay Village will speak about regionalism at the City Club. Her talk is titled "Realistic Regionalism for a More Vibrant Economy".

County commissioners from Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Medina Counties were guests on this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN, where they discussed regionalism and the fallout over the Avon I-90 interchange agreement.

While reactions to the Avon I-90 interchange revenue sharing agreement differ, county commissioners in Lorain and Medina Counties are pressing for the elimination of the weighted vote at NOACA, and continue to investigate the possibility of withdrawing from the MPO. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners have indicated that they're willing to talk about reforms.

Brad Whitehead urges local leaders to "use this as a moment to spur the real conversation about how we want to involve and what steps we might take to focus on growing the resources of the region rather than moving them from one place to another."

The compromise agreement on the planned new I-90 interchange in Avon prompted Medina County leaders to talk about withdrawing from NOACA. Lorain County commissioners threatened to withdraw from the MPO last week.

The NOACA Governing Board passed a resolution (PDF) approving the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, contingent upon the establishment of a revenue sharing plan. Prospective membership in the joint economic development zone was expanded to include eight Lorain County communities. Cleveland officials called the agreement "a giant step toward regional cooperation," but others feel that it may lead to NOACA's demise.

(Update: The Morning Journal and Plain Dealer have more details.)

Avon leaders offered a compromise agreement intended to end the controversy over the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. In exchange for approving the interchange, an 800 acre joint economic development zone in Avon would be created by Avon, Cleveland, and six western Cuyahoga County suburbs. Under the proposal, if a company with a payroll of more than $1 million were to move from one of the member cities to the Avon development zone, the two cities would evenly split its income tax revenue for five years. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the "region needs a coherent development strategy."

(Update: The Plain Dealer and Chronicle-Telegram report that officials are close to reaching a deal.)

The NOACA Governing Board is scheduled to vote on Friday on the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, and Cleveland officials requested a weighted vote. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County leaders say they will vote to disapprove the interchange unless a revenue sharing plan "that addresses the negative economic impacts on surrounding communities" is implemented. Two Lorain County commissioners responded by threatening to withdraw from NOACA.

Frank Jackson said that he's "not trying to pick a fight" over the interchange, but Plain Dealer columnist Kevin O'Brien and a Morning Journal editorial disagree with the tactics of Cuyahoga County leaders. Critics of NOACA say that the agency has not done enough to promote regional planning efforts.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland will both benefit from the recent water main agreement.

WCPN reported on the continuing controversy over the proposed new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, and devoted yesterday's Sound of Ideas program to a discussion of the issue, asking, "Are we coming together as a region, or are we still tied to parochial interests?" Also yesterday, Elyria City Council declined to vote on a resolution opposing the interchange.

Leaders of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District continue to promote the idea of regionalizing stormwater management in Greater Cleveland. Municipalities are currently responsible for stormwater issues, and NEORSD asserts that a regional approach could help communities meet federal EPA requirements.

The Cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland reached a deal on the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement proposed by Cleveland officials. The cities had been negotiating for over a year.

The Cleveland Foundation awarded $13.5 million in grants, including $1 million to Case Western Reserve University for the development of the University Arts and Retail District, $150,000 to Neighborhood Progress Inc. to support its foreclosure prevention and abandoned property redevelopment initiative, and $70,000 to Baldwin-Wallace College for the southwest Cuyahoga County fire service regionalization project.

Mayor Welo of South Euclid offered to personally pay the startup fees for the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District's entry into the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council. This fall, the mayors of Richmond Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights will meet with Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones to discuss funding sources. They hope to build a new recreation center without the use of local tax dollars.

Financial concerns may prevent the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District from joining the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council. The Cities of Richmond Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights have agreed to establish the council of governments.

The City of Aurora and Portage County reached a water distribution and no poaching agreement with the City of Cleveland.

(Update: WKSU and WCPN have more details.)

The Plain Dealer continued its "A Region Uniting" series with a look at city-county consolidation, using Louisville, Kentucky as an example. They examined the history of Louisville's efforts, compared the demographics of Cleveland and Louisville and their metro areas, and mapped black population shifts.

A News-Herald editorial praises a new regional economic development strategy for Lake County. "The vision is a regional focus that puts the good of the county equal to individual cities, townships and villages."

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

Hunting Valley adopted the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. The Village has no industrial land and only one commercial property.

Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren outlined several ambitious ideas that the City is considering to encourage regional progress. He plans to present a formal economic development strategy in October.

Northeast Ohio mayors promoted regionalism at yesterday's Professionals in the City event. "We can no longer compete within the region, because this is a global economy. That means we have to compete nationally and internationally in order for us to survive," said Frank Jackson.

The Plain Dealer reprinted a 2002 piece by the late Richard Shatten on the obstacles to progress in Greater Cleveland, and noted that it "is as relevant today as it was five years ago."

After reaching a water distribution and no poaching agreement with the City of Cleveland, leaders in Bedford are contemplating the implications of a region-wide tax sharing plan.

In regionalism news, Mayor Currin of Hudson and others continue to work on the 16 county governmental cooperative regional economic development initiative. They hope to release a report in January and a plan by March. Meanwhile, a group of seven east side Cuyahoga County suburbs may jointly select a company for garbage transfer and disposal (PDF).

The Plain Dealer offered support to local regionalism efforts in a pair of editorials, saying that "the people of Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township can help lead the way" in providing more efficient municipal services by studying a merger, and that the no poaching agreements between Cleveland and suburban communities signal that the region's "winner-take-all mind-set is starting to change."

The Cities of Lakewood and Bedford reached water distribution agreements with the City of Cleveland. The agreements include the no poaching clause present in similar agreements. The Cities of Bedford Heights and Euclid also recently signed water main maintenance agreements with Cleveland.

Leaders in Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township have started talking about merging the two communities. Mayor Blomquist of Olmsted Falls wants to conduct a study and create a committee of residents.

(Update: the News Sun presents additional information.)

John Cole, the editor of the Morning Journal, is unhappy that NOACA is conducting an analysis (PDF, 38 MB) of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, saying, "The deliberate sand-bagging of legitimate Lorain County projects in the name of urban sprawl or noise pollution or whatever fabricated nonsense by the assorted mayors and commissioners of Cuyahoga County is reprehensible."

In the second part of their regionalism series, the Sun News group of newspapers published several articles about how Greater Cleveland communities are sharing recreation center facilities. They also provided four interactive maps showing the locations of area recreation centers.

In the third part of their series on regionalism and municipal consolidation, the Plain Dealer listed the attitudes of local political leaders towards regionalism, offered suggestions about what they could be doing, named some potential roadblocks facing regional planning, and listed the achievements of other cities.

Recent Plain Dealer editorials say that "Greater Cleveland would benefit tremendously" from an expansion of the Continental Airlines hub at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, that the new Presidents' Council report on regionalism and equity is a "reminder that one of the most important goals of regional cooperation should be to improve the lives of as many people as possible," and that the planned Chagrin Falls arts district should make the Village "even more irresistible."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution offer a "practical idea for Ohio: Strive to attract at least 2 percent of each metropolitan area's population to live in traditional downtowns."

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Mansfield B. Frazier shares his thoughts about regionalism, the role of minorities, and the recent Presidents' Council report. "The question Blacks are asking is: Can regionalism be used to correct past injustices and imbalances in political power, or – similar to Louisville, KY where half of the Black elected officials lost their jobs due to government consolidation – will we again (as per usual) get the short end of the stick?"

Brecksville City Council tabled the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland, until they can determine if the VA Center consolidation would be covered by the agreement.

The Presidents' Council, a group of local African American business leaders, will unveil "Regionalism: Growing Together to Expand Opportunity to All" this evening. The report offers recommendations for how regional cooperation can benefit the poor and minorities. Public forums will be held to gather input on the suggestions, and Cleveland officials will create a plan based on the study within 60 to 90 days.

(Update: The Plain Dealer and WCPN have more information about the report.)

In the second installment of their "A Region Uniting?" series, the Plain Dealer looked at the potential for merging suburban communities in Greater Cleveland. They used Cleveland Heights and University Heights as an example, and compared the demographics of their proposed mergers with existing cities.

On June 25, South Euclid City Council is expected to vote on a proposal to create a council of governments with Richmond Heights, University Heights, and the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Board of Education to study the feasibility of a regional recreation center. University Heights passed similar legislation on June 4, while Lyndhurst leaders reiterated that they were not interested in participating.

Bruce Katz's May 29 talk at the City Club about the Brookings Institution Restoring Prosperity report is available as audio (MP3, 19.4 MB) and as text.

Orange, Parma Heights, and University Heights are the only suburbs that have adopted the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland, though 17 other municipalities have passed or introduced authorizing legislation.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Strickland administration to follow the advice of the recent Brookings Institution report, and concludes, "The state must not forget its enormous role in Cleveland's economy."

Shaker Heights City Council is discussing the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. Solon leaders are also examining the proposal, which one City Council member says is "a very onerous agreement."

By a vote of 2-1, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners decided to rescind $200,000 in funding for the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office. The organization was recently awarded $335,000 by the Fund for Our Economic Future.

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord reports that the regional economic revenue study recently funded by the the Fund for Our Economic Future will be conducted by Myron Orfield and researchers at Cleveland State University and Lorain County Community College. They will analyze property tax sharing models and identify potential legislative changes.

WKSU provides additional coverage of Bruce Katz's talk at the City Club.

The Fund for Our Economic Future awarded grants to local initiatives and economic development organizations, including $90,000 to the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association for a study of regional tax sharing and other collaborations, $200,000 to NorTech for work with the Cuyahoga County Energy Task Force on the Lake Erie wind turbine feasibility study, and $335,000 to the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office. In addition, the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization received a $49,954 grant from the Ohio EPA to conduct a public awareness campaign about watersheds.

In regionalism news, the proposed seven city fire district in southwest Cuyahoga County continues to gather support. Meanwhile, the cities of Richmond Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights, and the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District are working to create the Hillcrest Heights Area Recreation Council, a council of governments that would examine the feasibility of constructing a regional recreation center.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Cuyahoga County Commissioners to not provide financial support for the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office, and suggests that they instead "should consider having the county take on NEOSO's task."

Lakewood City Council has begun to examine the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland. Because Lakewood buys water in bulk from Cleveland, the maintenance agreement would not apply, and Cleveland agreed to an immediate rate decrease as an incentive.

The Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office requested $200,000 from Cuyahoga County, but the County Commissioners are concerned about the organization's finances and the salaries of its top employees. NEOSO leaders expect it to be self-sustaining by 2010.

The Sun Newspapers joined the Plain Dealer in examining regionalism in Greater Cleveland through the "A Region Uniting?" series, and published articles about the regionalization of municipal emergency services. In Cuyahoga County, the articles covered the Chagrin Valley area, Cleveland, the Cuyahoga Valley area, Euclid and the Hillcrest area, the Heights area, southwest Cuyahoga County, and the Westshore area. They also explored efforts in eastern Lorain County, Medina County, and northern Summit County, and posted maps of area fire stations at the Sun News weblog.

Meanwhile, Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future took issue with a Plain Dealer infographic that labeled some of the more ambitious proposals for regional governance as out of reach. "If we are to have a meaningful, transparent conversation about what is best for the region, then no option should be arbitrarily removed from the table at this early stage."

Michael Roberts of Inside Business interviewed Sam Miller about his support for a unified Cuyahoga County Government. In his column, Editor Lute Harmon said that citizens must "step up and accept" Miller's challenge.

Tomorrow, Case Western Reserve University professor Gladys Haddad will begin Regionally Speaking, a new talk show. It will focus on regional issues, including neighborhoods and livability.

The Plain Dealer re-launched its "A Region Divided" series as "A Region Uniting?" and plans to pose many questions about regionalism in Greater Cleveland. Editor Doug Clifton says he hopes the series will "advance the discussion and rekindle citizen and official interest in tackling the problems of parochialism that so often stifle our loftiest ambitions." The launch was accompanied by a recap of the previous series, a look at the likelihood of some ideas and the economic impacts of demographic trends, and interactive maps showing Ohio migration and the destinations of former Greater Clevelanders.

A Plain Dealer editorial praises the efforts of suburban Cuyahoga County mayors to promote regionalism, concluding, "We enthusiastically support the leaders who are trying to widen the scope of regionalism here. When communities in Northeast Ohio stop wasting resources on redundant systems and structures, all taxpayers will benefit."

In a Plain Dealer editorial, Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti promotes the proposed seven-city fire district that is under study in southwest Cuyahoga County, saying, "The cost of government has become an albatross around the neck of our region." Editor Gloria Millner interviewed him about the proposal.

Scene editor Pete Kotz chastises Sam Miller for advocating regionalism while operating as "an insider who's always plucked for himself."

A group of nine suburban mayors from across Cuyahoga County agreed to support a regionalism effort. The plans have not been drafted, but will not call for municipal consolidation, and will recommend the formation of new countywide economic development agency.

Middleburg Heights officials are reviewing the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement presented by the City of Cleveland, but are apprehensive about adopting it.

Akron Beacon Journal editorial writer Steve Hoffman is encouraged by the efforts of the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office to promote intergovernmental cooperation, and hopes its success will lead to a reduction of redundant municipal services.

Sun News columnist Joe Yachanin agrees with Miller's Sam Miller's call for a unified Cuyahoga County government. Roldo Bartimole takes the opposite view and also criticizes the Plain Dealer editorial board for its stand on the Cleveland Trust Tower.

WKYC's Tom Beres interviewed Sam Miller about his push for a Cuyahoga County unified government, and Cool Cleveland's Thomas Mulready interviewed Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future on the launch of Advance Northeast Ohio: QuickTime (5.4 MB), Windows Media (8.5 MB).

Yesterday, Mayor Jackson named Chris Warren, former director of Cleveland's economic development and community development departments, as the City's Chief of Regional Development. He will begin work in June.

This morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the new Advance Northeast Ohio action plan. The guests were Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future, Tom Waltermire of Team NEO, and Andrew Jackson of the Greater Cleveland Commission on Economic Inclusion.

A Plain Dealer editorial backs Sam Miller's call for regional government in Cuyahoga County.

(Update: Sam Fulwood says that the proposal could eliminate waste caused by the duplication of municipal services, while Roldo Bartimole thinks it's a ploy to get public funding for a new downtown convention center.)

More than 250 Northeast Ohio civic leaders attended this morning's official unveiling of the Advance Northeast Ohio plan. The four-pronged action plan is aimed at improving the regional economy. The plan's website also launched, and the frequently-updated site features the action plan, news, multimedia, and information on initiatives for 2007.

Sam Miller of Forest City Enterprises declared that the only way Greater Cleveland can survive is with a unified regional government, and offered to fund a two year "communitywide process to look at the way we are governed."

A Plain Dealer editorial says that local leaders need to commit to the strategies identified in Advance Northeast Ohio. "Northeast Ohio's leaders and residents must work together on all four areas. And they must do so with a sense of urgency."

Advance Northeast Ohio, a regional economic action plan that is an outgrowth of the Voices & Choices project, will be officially unveiled at a kickoff meeting on Friday morning at the Knight Center in Akron. It will focus on four areas: growing businesses, preparing the work force, improving opportunities for minority-owned companies, and making government more efficient.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

The Cities of Brooklyn and Westlake are not expected to approve the water main maintenance and no poaching agreements offered by the City of Cleveland.

Ed Morrison shares his thoughts on the connections between urban sprawl, single-use zoning, and regionalism. "We need to find new ways of collaborating across political boundaries. We are beginning to make some progress in this direction, but our progress is altogether too slow."

When Mayor Rawson of Shaker Heights announced that she would not run for re-election this year, a Plain Dealer editorial named her "one of the most enlightened and earliest advocates of regional cooperation," and a WCPN segment noted that "her name is synonymous with regionalism" before moving on to a discussion of regionalism in Greater Cleveland (MP3).

The Fund for Our Economic Future will hold a series of public meetings across Northeast Ohio to gather public input on ways to address the priorities identified by the Voices & Choices project.

Rocky River City Council has begun discussing the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland.

This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN featured a discussion about regionalism through the sharing of municipal services, focusing on the seven-city fire district proposed for southwest Cuyahoga County. The guests were Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti, Northern Ohio Fire Fighters Association President Jim Astorino, and Baldwin-Wallace College's Eric Fingerhut. It also examined a new plan for joint purchasing of municipal solid waste services, with guests Maple Heights Mayor Michael Ciaravino and Pat Holland of the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.

Leaders in Olmsted Falls are apprehensive about adopting the City of Cleveland's water service/no poaching agreement, and are considering a switch to the Rural Lorain County Water Authority.

A Plain Dealer editorial offers encouragement for Mayor Currin of Hudson's call for a regional tax sharing plan, calling it a "commendable and courageous step to try to ensure long-term economic health for all of Northeast Ohio."

Last summer's series of floods in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties prompted area leaders to cooperate in developing riparian setback requirements, flood prevention techniques, and in purchasing properties within flood plains.

Voices & Choices published their Report on the Public's Priorities for Northeast Ohio's Future (PDF), a summary of the program's process of identifying regional priorities and actions.

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