The Regional Chamber has undertaken three aggressive initiatives to improve efficiency in our local government and school district operations. Ultimately, these improvements would lead to a greater quality of life and put our community on the map as a place to work, live and play.
Consolidating School District Administrative Functions
The proposal: The Regional Chamber proposes that Ohio school districts consolidate district administrative functions into central administrative units for each county.
The reasoning: Public school student population in the three counties has dropped by more that 48,000 students in the last 30 years, but the costs of education and administration continue to go up and the number of school remain about the same. Administrative costs in the three counties average $1,462 per student compared to a state like Virginia that spends only $860 per student for administration. Virginia has one school district her county.
The cost savings: The Chamber believes that the savings from the administration consolidations could be used to provide free-tuition for every Valley high school graduate to attend area colleges and trade schools, for tax reduction and for increased spending on instruction.
The results: The initiative would result in more of our students graduating from high school and going to college or trade school. It would improve the training and education of our workforce, attract attention from businesses looking at locating here, and assist existing businesses who need a better quality worker.
What we’re doing: Chamber officials have dialogued with area superintendents and board of education members to explain the proposal while listening to their concerns. Chamber executives are also talking to state leaders, local legislators and many community groups about our proposals. The initiative has been profiled in numerous newspapers and magazines and on various television and radio stations in Northeast Ohio. Editorial writers at the area’s two largest newspapers support the proposals.
Home Rule Charters for Mahoning and Trumbull Counties
Premise: The Chamber believes that county government needs to be reformed to provide more effective and efficient government operations.
What it would do: Home Rule would allow the citizens of the two counties to have more of a voice in their county government while making changes to ensure more dynamic leadership and that those managing county operations are qualified to do the job.
What we’re doing: The Chamber recruited more than 30 members of charter committees in both Trumbull and Mahoning counties to work on writing home rule charters for the two counties. Charters were completed in each county in 2009. There remains hope that the charters will be put before voters in the near future.
Premise: The Chamber believes that local governments and school districts in the Mahoning Valley must work together to lower the cost of government services and invest in economic development opportunities for the area. Many growth areas around the country, including Akron and Minneapolis in the Midwest, have found that local government collaboration spurs economic growth.
The Chamber has assisted local government leaders in starting the process of real and meaningful collaboration. In 2008, government leaders from Mahoning County, Youngstown, Struthers, Campbell, Lowellville, Canfield City, Poland Village, New Middletown Village and the townships of Boardman, Austintown, Canfield, Poland and Coitsville formed the Mahoning Metro Leaders Roundtable to begin a dialogue on issues of mutual interest. In addition to looking at ways to share services and reduce costs of government, some of the communities are working with Mahoning County on a plan to consolidate police, fire and emergency dispatch centers into a unified countywide 911 center.
In 2009, the Trumbull County Roundtable was established to bring various community leaders together to work on ways to reduce costs and share services. Those represented on the Roundtable are Mahoning County Commissioners, Mahoning County Engineer, Mahoning County Sheriff, cities of Warren, Cortland, Niles and Girard and the townships of Howland, Champion, Warren, Brookfield, Vienna and Liberty