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Sharing the burden

Small-town budgets have been facing challenges for many years.

As costs to provide basic services increase while taxpayers exhibit less willingness to dig deeper into their pockets, the task facing many local officials becomes even more difficult.

Give officials in Belmont, Bethesda and Belmont County’s Goshen Township credit for trying out a new model of local government.

During their most recent meeting, Belmont Village Council members discussed purchasing a used pavement roller, at a cost of $14,500. Even that relatively low price would be a strain on the village budget, however.

But what if the purchase price and ongoing maintenance expenses were divided three ways?

Bethesda Village Administrator Dirk Davis, who found the used roller, has asked if Belmont and Goshen Township are interested in buying the equipment through a three-way partnership.

For now, Belmont council members seem enthusiastic about the idea.

It would not be the first such joint purchase.

Belmont and Bethesda already have joint ownership of a street sweeper.

That deal illustrates one of the challenges in cost-sharing among local government entities.

Belmont officials do not believe their village is getting its fair share of use of the street sweeper. Breakdowns in cooperative spirit can result from such disagreements.

Fortunately, officials in both communities seem willing to work something out.

Let us hope that happens quickly — and that the three-way purchase of the pavement roller goes ahead, too.

In both situations, residents of local government subdivisions are getting more bang for their tax bucks. Equipment not affordable by a single entity becomes available because of a willingness to cooperate.

That philosophy should be promoted throughout our area. It appears the fiscal challenges of running municipalities, townships and counties are going to increase. Sharing may be the only way to ensure some services can be offered in the future.

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