City and County Talk Local Government Consolidation

(SIOUX CITY/WOODBURY COUNTY, IA) The Sioux City Journal's Editorial Board wants to study the feasibility of merging Woodbury County and Sioux City -- consolidating the two governments and operating with one budget.

Is it possible? The Journal says yes.

In an editorial in Sunday's paper, the SCJ says having a group of people take a good, hard look at whether consolidation could be an option for the city and county is certainly worth it and could save tax payers money.

For the fiscal year 2014, Woodbury County and Sioux City's budgets total roughly $229 million and both government entities can agree the past few years have been tight -- stretching those dollars thin. Which is why Larry Clausen, with the Board of Supervisors and Rhonda Capron, a City Council member, both agree the idea is quite intriguing.

"I think there is a lot of merit to looking at things," said Clausen.

"We have a couple of departments that we could work on. HR for one, human resources and also economic development. We have moneys floating around, we could work out things and do it together," said Capron.

Clausen says the idea has surfaced many times actually turning that idea into a living and breathing task force of interested but objective citizens is where things could get iffy.

The Journal says the task force shouldn't consist of any elected officials or public workers simply because it doesn't want any "special interests" affecting the process.

Both Clausen and Capron don't have any problem with that but hope others will step up to the task.

"I think you go to labor, business, schools, probably. I'm sure there would be a lot of people interested in serving on something like that," said Clausen.

Capron suggests the media should start the task force since our job is to be objective.

"The media's been there, so they know the people to talk to and the people that are interested could also jump in," she said.

Both Clausen and Capron say, while it never hurts to see if it could work, actually implementing it would be the hardest part.

"Who's going to give up what and is a small town going to be comfortable with lets say the City of Sioux City having 2 or 3 people on a governing body? The devils in the details and you know a group of people can come up with those answers."

So what's the next step? Who knows.

Clearly folks are open to the idea but so far, no one has started the groundwork to study the possibility in detail.

Also up in the air - whether school districts should be part of the consolidation. There are ten school districts that cover Woodbury County, from more than 14,000 students in Sioux City to just 250 in Anthon-Oto.

Adding schools to the consolidation could mean combining ten school boards into one.
As Rhonda Capron put it - definitely an uphill battle.