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Beloit, Janesville councils meet, discuss collaboration

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 8, 2011
— Beloit and Janesville city council members said Rock County’s two largest cities must work together to save money, and that means getting rid of the “little kingdoms and fiefdoms.”

Council members gathered Tuesday for a meeting that Beloit President Kevin Leavy said was “a long time coming.”


The cities face the same struggles and challenges, and it is time to sit down at a table and have a discussion on how best to help one another, Leavy said.


The councils decided to:


-- Inventory what each city does.


-- Inventory major equipment to see if any can be purchased and used jointly.


-- Bring division heads together to discuss ways to share.


-- Consider collaborating on purchasing, although Beloit Manager Larry Arft said Beloit already probably gets the best prices by bidding through the state.


Beloit and Janesville collaborate on programs such as the county’s emergency call center and neighborhood and housing initiatives, saving on administrative costs.


The cities also are discussing how best to provide stray animal control because the Rock County Humane Society is getting out of the business. That problem could be solved on the regional level, Janesville Manager Eric Levitt said.


Janesville Councilman Russ Steeber said he remembered a time when Beloit and Janesville were clearly divided, but the reality is that the cities are more similar than different. Working together will not cause either to lose its identity, he said.


Beloit Councilman David Luebke said the councils must work together before the state tells them what to do.


Everything should be on the table, such as consolidating SWAT teams and canine units, Luebke said.


“The taxpayers need more efficient, more effective delivery of services,” Luebke said. The biggest problems are the “little kingdoms and fiefdoms.” He said other cities and towns could be included as well.


Janesville City Council President George Brunner recalled how Janesville and Beloit tried to collaborate on an emergency communications center in the 1980s.


“We formed a committee and fought,” he said, citing too many territorial concerns and needs.


Several years later, they tried again and the result is a first-class system, Brunner said.


“I think this puts the territorial issue way behind us. But it took some time,” he said.


The two groups will meet again in September in Janesville.



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