City and county officials are holding a Local Government Summit this afternoon at Waterloo’s Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center. Bill Peterson’s director of the Iowa State Association of Counties, and says this is nothing new, as cities and counties frequently compare notes on the services they provide and share. They don’t compete, says Peterson, as cities and counties provide different services to many of the same people in an area. Cities provide infrastructure – streets, sewer, police and fire service, while counties provide services, to folks living in both the towns and rural areas. For example, a city’s police might bring an arrested suspect to the jail run by the county. While Des Moines and Polk County are working toward combining their government, Peterson says that’s not necessary to ensure cooperation in local government operations. The idea of getting together and figuring out the most efficient way to do things doesn’t have to mean restructuring the city or county organization, just the best way to provide services — what you might call “functional consolidation.” Peterson says there are six or seven-thousand intergovernmental agreements, between cities and counties, cities and cities, counties and counties — in places where it makes sense for people do to things jointly. Black County Supervisors, mayors of Waterloo and Cedar Falls, local schoolboard representatives and others are meeting with representatives from the Iowa League of Cities and the Iowa State Association of Counties.
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