Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013 | 2:01 a.m.
Sitting next to each other Thursday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee smiled and talked about the great things that can potentially happen if the cities work together.
They presented a plan to study how the cities could cooperate. They wouldn’t use the word “consolidation.” That’s something of a dirty word among local elected officials. No one wants to give up anything, and nobody was offering to do so. Instead, they were talking about “partnerships” and “shared services.”
Whatever they want to call it, it is welcome and well past due.
Over the past several years, North Las Vegas hadn’t shown much interest in cooperating, even despite its overwhelming financial difficulties. Goodman said she had offered to help North Las Vegas several times but each time was told it wasn’t needed. The only break in that was when North Las Vegas hastily closed its jail because of its budget pains and struck a deal with Las Vegas to take inmates.
This year’s election brought new leaders into North Las Vegas’ city hall. Lee quickly reached out to Goodman, and they started talking. Last week, Goodman and Lee announced the plan to study how their cities can streamline government and save money.
Their respective city councils will have to approve the plan, and the councils would be foolish not to. It would only allow a study, and the councils will have the final say on what, if any, changes are made.
The study would examine at least 11 areas of government in which services could be shared, including economic development, business licensing and animal control. The plan also includes looking at pooling purchasing to create greater buying power and cooperating on sports field scheduling, which could bring bigger tournaments to the area.
The study would last no longer than six months. North Las Vegas would hire former Clark County Manager Thom Reilly to help oversee it and work with an 11-member citizen committee that will review any proposal to share services.
The panel, which will meet in public, will forward its recommendations to the city councils for approval. There will also be a review of each of the areas by an outside consultant to make sure it would be financially beneficial.
City officials said that whatever ideas come forth, they would have to be mutually beneficial. In short: Las Vegas won’t be riding to the rescue or swooping in to take over North Las Vegas.
This is a good chance for the cities to cooperate in finding better and more cost-effective ways to provide services. It won’t be easy. There will be people who object to the idea of “consolidation,” and there are plenty of difficult details to work out. But there is still great potential, and we hope people get behind the effort.
During an editorial board meeting with the Sun, Lee said there was potential to “do some pretty smart things with our sister city,” and Goodman called it “an exciting time” for the region.
They are both correct, and in an era in which government isn’t working nationally, it’s nice to see things working locally.