by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Leon said, “Keep taxes low, providing the best services possible while building jobs and business.” That is what government is supposed to do.
Leon went on to tell me an interlocal agreement is a contract between government agencies that work to provide services to the public, such as parks and bus systems. He used them while serving three terms as mayor of a town in Texas and ask how these worked for him during his tenure. Leon is a descendant of Erastus Smith, who first cried, “Remember the Alamo!”
I called him because I discovered that Ashtabula is outsourcing services to other governmental entities, for instance Lake County, according to Janice Switzer, in charge of Ashtabula's COMMUNITY SERVICES AND PLANNING DEPARTMENT. Janice announced at a recent meeting, "I am not a planner, I use Lake County to plan. I am an administrator."
If Lake County is planning and handling the work why does Ashtabula need an administrator? Couldn't the Commissioners do that?
Leon said these local agreements are a fine way to lower costs. What, I asked, would you think if they did not lower costs? There was a pause and he asked why, then, they were using them? Getting the most bang for the buck makes it possible to do more that needs doing.
Keeping it local provides the most jobs and best supports business.
Leon said it makes perfect sense to use interlocal agreements to lower the cost of services to better serve the people, this being what government is supposed to do. Cooperating locally helps make this possible. This also requires people skills, and patience.
When Leon was mayor he helped establish a non profit, BARK, Bosque Animal Rescue Kennels. They found ways to increase the number of cats and dogs adopted into good homes with a facility planned to provide vet services and recreation facilities used by the whole county. To see the kitty or pup is to love them. Leon contacted Doris Day, who provided pointers. BARK is now celebrating its tenth birthday.
While he was mayor Leon brought together all the county towns to provide better ambulance services and re-engineer the infrastructure for drinking water used by folks locally, keeping the cost low. They built a pipeline themselves. It is a very small county, but they got a lot done while Leon was mayor of Clifton, Texas and editor of their local paper.