As budget crunches have hit cities there’s been a lot more talk of sharing services between cities. In a lot of ways it makes sense, cities do the same work so why not try to look for opportunities to cross-over jurisdictional boundaries to plan together and operate more collaboratively. The City seals may change but the street sweeper sweeps the same in Kent as it does in Hudson, Stow, Ravenna, etc.
The idea made sense long before local budgets crashed but sometimes it takes a crisis to create a strong enough sense of urgency to overcome inertia and bust through the turf issues that guard jurisdictional borders. I had a meeting just last week with a neighboring city mayor where we commiserated over budget woes and tried to find a silver lining brainstorming ideas for where it might make sense to look at sharing services. We specifically talked about the Fire Services study that has been under way for a couple of years now that has looked at how Fire Services among Portage County cities and towns could be re-shaped and blended to save money while improving services and response times. The study findings should be coming out in the next month and that should give us all something to look at and talk about.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a great example of shared services — AMATS, aka the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, has been bringing together area governments for decades to plan and implement transportation projects that serve our region. AMATS has wrestled its way through a lot of the logistical challenges that confounds cities that try to partner and in that respect they’re a great model for what could be done in other areas of city government.
AMATS recently went live with a new web site that gives a great overview of the transportation work that they do in our region. Here’s a note from the AMATS Director describing their new web site:
The web site was created by Akron’s own 427 Design. We think that they have done a great job and we are very proud of it.
First of all, we think it looks great. The overall design concept is at-once retro and modern. The artwork highlights Akron’s history, its skyline, and other significant regional landmarks. Symbolically, it is evocative the art-deco age of the 1930s and 1940s; a time when our cities were thriving, our neighborhoods were well-designed, and our communities were connected by a multi-modal transportation system. Our mission here at AMATS is to work tirelessly to help our region to recapture this sense of connectedness and cohesion; to forge the wonderful amenities that we already possess and transform them into a strong and vibrant community that we believe can be the envy of the nation.
Secondly, and most importantly, the site is easy to use and contains quality content. It contains pages devoted to Transportation Outlook, our region’s transportation plan; the Transportation Improvement Program, which describes all federally-funded projects in the area; and Connecting Communities, our new initiative geared toward reducing urban sprawl and better coordinating land use and transportation decisions.
The site also includes a wealth of data regarding transportation improvements, traffic data, and demographic trends. We are particularly proud of the interactive library of maps. We are also excited about the opportunities that the site presents in terms of encouraging public engagement, dialogue, and discussion of policy issues. We now have the ability to upload podcasts of important meetings, and future improvements to the site will include a planning-related blog that will allow us to better disseminate information and will allow our constituents to weigh-in on the issues that are important to them.
Our goal is for AMATS to be the type of government agency that can renew the public’s faith in government. We desire this, not for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, but for the satisfaction of truly serving the public, and serving it well. I believe that this new web site is an important means to this even more important end. It is why we are here, and it is why we love our job.
Very Best Regards,
Jason A. Segedy
Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study
146 S. High St.
Akron, Ohio 44308-1423
Work Phone: (330) 375-2436