Shared programs by Butler County government agencies benefit many
After starting a health-care cooperative that saved local municipalities more than $1 million, the Butler County Council of Governments is gauging interest on other ideas that could help communities control costs and budgets.
The group is exploring a vehicle leasing program, whether it would be cheaper to use propane-gas vehicles and, if there's enough interest, to cooperate on grant applications, Executive Director Jeff Smith said.
“With smaller municipalities, maybe you don't plan ahead as well as you could,” Smith said. “You might have an old truck breaking down a lot, and you're scrambling to spend $25,000 or $30,000. This could help with the budgeting process.”
COGs are voluntary regional bodies that unite government agencies seeking to share resources. The Butler County COG represents communities where about two-thirds of Butler County's 185,000 residents live.
“The Butler County COG has been a success story,” Smith said, pointing to the health-care cooperative. “We have delivered value. For every dollar paid in dues, municipalities are getting back $4 or $5 in benefits.”
The Butler COG recently received the Annual Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence for the creation of COG Care, which provides health coverage for more than 1,165 people employed by nearly 80 municipal governments, water and sewer authorities in Western Pennsylvania and the Northern Regional Police Department in northern Allegheny County.
The award “is recognition of your dedication to public service and a celebration of leadership and innovation that has resulted in vibrant communities for the citizens you serve,” Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley said.
The first-year savings for COG Care in 2011, with seven COGs and 41 municipalities participating, was estimated at $1.1 million, with projected three-year savings at $1.8 million.
“This way exceeded my expectations,” said Smith.
Cranberry Manager Jerry Andree said his township has likely saved more than $250,000 over the past five years by participating in COG and its shared-buying programs.
“Our board has been huge supporters of COG,” Andree said. “It knows the value of intermunicipal cooperation, and how to work together to save all our taxpayers money.”
Butler COG has purchased a $20,000 device that municipalities can use to measure the brightness of street signs and an asphalt crack-sealing machine for $100,000 that communities can rent for $600. COG uses fees from renting the sealer to purchase other equipment, said Cranberry public works Director Jason Dailey, also the secretary for the Butler COG board.
“It's a tremendous benefit to our members,” he said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 300 units on 47 Cranberry acres near starting point
- Tough negotiation looms for Butler Area School District
- Butler County senior centers face cutback in operations
- Evans City pays tribute to its veterans
- Zelienople prepares for 175th anniversary
- Slippery Rock library gains money match to replace undersized home
- Jackson housing plan goes under over flooding concerns
- One vote now separates 2 Republican candidates for Butler County commissioner
- 2 votes separate GOP commissioner hopefuls
- Death of woman found near hospital not thought suspicious