Regular readers know the Business Journal believes strongly in less government and more cooperation — if not outright consolidation — among business organizations with shared missions, agencies that serve business, and municipalities.
So it should be no surprise that we have concerns about what's happening with the Lancaster Inter-Municipal Committee. Since December, two of the largest members of the 12-member council of governments decided to drop out.
Officials in both East Hempfield Township and Manheim Township said they think their municipalities were carrying an unfair share of the LIMC's budget and getting little in return.
In expressing his opposition to LIMC participation, one East Hempfield supervisor said he considered membership to be paying twice for services the township already provides to residents.
That misses the point of a council of government, which, despite its name, is what the LIMC is.
First and foremost, a COG promotes cooperation and facilitates joint efforts between municipalities aimed at reducing duplication of services. At its simplest level, a COG is the vehicle by which municipalities can enter into a standing mutual agreement to share equipment, employees or joint responsibility for a project without going through the cumbersome process of enacting an ordinance every time they wish to do so. COGs also can do group purchases on items like road salt and other materials.
Just as important, COGs become places where officials can communicate on a regular basis and create a unified voice on regional issues.
How big a budget the LIMC needs to do these things should always be up for discussion. But to just drop out and say there is no benefit to belonging is shortsighted.
The LIMC is at a crossroads. Its executive director has stepped down. The loss of the two townships could stall progress on vitally important regional transportation and environmental initiatives, LIMC advocates say.
But, like all COGs, the LIMC belongs to its members; elected officials from the municipalities serve as representatives and direct its actions. They have the sole power to set policy and budgets — and the responsibility to educate their communities on what the LIMC does.
Clearly, immediate work needs to be done in all these areas. That effort would be strengthened if East Hempfield and Manheim townships stayed on board to help shape the LIMC's course.
In a state that has too many local governments, COGs bridge the divides. To lose the LIMC would be a blow for central Lancaster County.