When Wisconsin's governor and Minnesota's governor got together last week and announced that the two states would cooperate more in an effort to save taxpayer money, it was big news.
States tend to enjoy operating independently and the thought of such joint-operating ideas makes many public officials' skin crawl.
But the cost-saving measures make sense in the the declining economy we find ourselves in. Resources are becoming more limited, so it only makes sense to stretch the available dollars as much as possible.
While we applaud the new two-state pact, Tim Pawlenty and Jim Doyle's historic summit has nothing on New Richmond area public servants.
Since the Front Porch Project was instituted in these parts a couple years back, local units of government, school officials and others have been seeking ways to better work together.
The Governmental Entities Network is a direct result of the effort to pull the community together and encourage everyone to work toward a common goal.
That's meant cooperation on such things as a new regional library concept and the continued development of a regional recreational facility at Hatfield Park.
While the locals are miles ahead of many communities across the country, perhaps the new Minnesota-Wisconsin cooperative agreement can spur on the Government Entities Network to even more discussions of cooperation in the future.
Of course, from a public service standpoint the area community already cooperates together to efficiently provide such things as fire protection, an ambulance service and more.
But perhaps money could be more efficiently and effectively spent if other cooperative efforts are uncovered.
Things like equipment, buildings, vehicles and more could be shared in an effort to cut down on the number of items local taxpayers have to fund.
Gas purchases for all the municipalities could be lumped into one huge buying pool, in an effort to bring down the costs for some or all. Maybe even health insurance coverage for public employees could be somehow pooled to get better premium rates for local municipalities.
Summer road projects, which all municipalities fund, could possible be grouped together into one package and bid out to reduce costs. Crack sealing and pothole filling costs could be cut if more cooperation was encouraged among towns, villages and cities.
The possibilities are endless, and the New Richmond area already has the perfect avenue for discussions about greater cooperation to occur. The focus just has to shift a bit to cost savings and we'll see if there's a few ways to save some of those shrinking dollars.