County gets it right on collaboration analysis

When business leaders from the private sector challenged Kent County and Grand Rapids city leaders to consolidate services (on a very short timeframe), it was anticipated there could be great taxpayer savings, better coordination of services and a number of other benefits.

As the year sets on the group established to determine such action, the Business Journal notes a much different outcome and more important accomplishments.

First, the leadership provided by Kent County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Sandi Frost Parrish: Some individuals in major leadership posts use that time — and position — to declare their way is the only way, or to berate others who may have different ideas. Parrish formed the Kent County Community Collaboration Work Group, made up of individuals who not only have vested interests in the outcomes but also those who have interest in the concept. Parrish and the group gave a serious amount of time and serious study to the proposal, including the expertise of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research for legitimate analysis of the issue.

The findings are well presented in the Business Journal report on page 3 and underscore that perceptions are not facts. Presupposed ideas and assumptions are given factual answers.

These actions (and outcomes) give example to state and national leaders still stymied by the objective of wresting control rather than taking action. In this case, regarding a major governmental consolidation, harm would have been heaped upon the taxpayers of Kent County, far outweighing the minimal cost savings a decade from now.

The use of resources, time and money for serious study of consolidation is worth the cost for any result, pro or con, because the fact-finding involved is the ultimate treasure. The facts did uncover a few other issues that are wholly worthy of continued discussion — chiefly, better coordination of local and state governmental business services.

Those are the types of issues Gov. Rick Snyder has identified for change, and such discussion with the governor’s office should continue with the facts of the Kent County study. The Business Journal encourages the city and the new county chairman to do so as Parrish relinquishes her leadership post. It is not a footnote but a worthwhile goal.

The proposal to merge the two governmental bodies was not solely based on the perception of taxpayer savings in consolidation of services; its most anticipated outcome was predicated on creating a larger market statistical area — the one number most relied upon by companies to determine in which regions they might expand. The objective to change the federal government’s market map for this region requires continued doggedness well worth the united efforts of all.

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