Service Collaboration in Orange,Moreland Hills, Pepper Pike, Woodmere - November 20, 2013

The draft of the final report from the merger/shared services study entitled

Effective Local Government Through Collaboration
Service Delivery in Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike &, Woodmere

was prepared for the Cuyahoga County Department of Regional Collaboration by Kent Gardner, Ph.D., Project Director. The report is available to read on-line.

Posted December, 2013

Press Release
Media contact:
Jeane’ Holley: (216) 698-2544 or


CLEVELAND – The Cuyahoga County Department of Regional Collaboration, the mayors of Moreland Hills, Pepper Pike, Orange, and Woodmere, and the Center for Governmental Research are hosting a community meeting to discuss the results of a study to evaluate the opportunities for merger and shared services among the four communities. Read the full press release

The Center for Governmental Research (CGR), the consultant engaged by Cuyahoga County to conduct a thorough review of opportunities for shared services – including the possibility of a merger, will present its draft final study at a community meeting on Monday, November 18, 2013, 7:00 PM at Orange High School, 32000 Chagrin Boulevard, Pepper Pike, Ohio.

The grant-funded study and report is the result of a nearly year-long process that included community meetings, interviews with mayors and directors, input from residents, and comprehensive analysis of community operations. The study identifies a number of opportunities for the four east side communities to share services and save money. Noting that a merger of the communities would entail costs, as well as savings, the report concludes that the net savings from a merger would likely be modest – 5% to 6% - and that much of that savings could be achieved through a sharing of services.


In June 2011, four east side communities seeking to become stronger and more efficient sought support from Cuyahoga County. Led by County Executive Ed FitzGerald and the county’s first-ever Director of Regional Collaboration Ed Jerse, Cuyahoga County assembled a team and resources to study opportunities for shared services – including a possible merger. Harnessing the resources of the County Planning Commission, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, and the state of Ohio, the team engaged nationally-recognized Center for Governmental Research to manage the process.

In its report, CGR suggests that the communities consider a joint building department, automatic mutual aid for fire and EMS, joint planning of capital equipment purchases, and shared overnight police patrols. Some of CGR’s suggestions would not lead to great savings, but could improve service quality and delivery. Others could more dramatically affect the bottom line. For example, the joint planning of fire equipment purchases could save $1.4 million over 5 years.

CGR notes that “a great deal of sharing already occurs” and that merger involves costs as well as efficiencies. For example, the communities make very good use of part-time employees, who are trained and receive benefits elsewhere, and personnel costs would increase if full-time employees were used in a consolidated operation.

Statement from County Executive Edward FitzGerald

FitzGerald praised Mayors Susan Renda of Moreland Hills, Kathy Mulcahy of Orange, Richard Bain of Pepper Pike, Charles Smith of Woodmere, and former Mayor Bruce Akers of Pepper Pike, for stepping forward to ask for the study. “These mayors took a chance by studying the possibility of merger,” said FitzGerald. “This very first step is the definition of leadership, notably in pursuit of making their communities stronger. Already, we have a better understanding of the opportunities to share services and save money. This report identifies opportunities for collaboration that can be explored not only by these four communities, but by communities across the county and state.”

Statement from Director of Regional Collaboration Ed Jerse

“A lot of time and effort went into this study and any communities considering merger or shared services can learn from this effort,” said Jerse. “The study identifies shared service opportunities, but it also reveals that mergers can be more complicated than we might initially think – sometimes there are unexpected efficiencies in smaller operations and unanticipated costs in consolidated ones.”

Statement from Participating Mayors

The mayors thanked FitzGerald for his support and pledged to explore the suggestions made by the report. They noted that, while some residents were open to exploring a possible merger, others feared a loss of community identity, quality of specific services, or financial well-being. “Our residents value the high level of services we provide and the fact that our safety forces know many of them,” said Woodmere Mayor Charles Smith. “You’re balancing a desire to be as efficient as possible against a desire to preserve what people love most about their communities,” said Moreland Hills Mayor Susan Renda.

The mayors noted that, at initial community meetings, there was widespread support for sharing services, but greater hesitancy when the talk turned to merger. “Early on, we concluded that an initial focus on shared services would be less contentious and more productive,” said Pepper Pike Mayor Richard Bain. “We believe that approach can promote trust, achieve savings, and provide experiences that will be valuable in any future discussions to achieve sustainability of high quality services.”

Mayor Kathy Mulcahy of Orange said that her goal of “putting a number” on the possible savings from a merger had been achieved. “You can talk about merger in a theoretical sense, but until you identify the potential savings, you don’t know how compelling the case is,” she said. “The report tells us that modest savings could be achieved, but also that much of that savings can be achieved through the less difficult process of sharing services.” Mulcahy was also pleased that the report praised the communities for existing collaborations and efficient practices. “It’s nice to know that we’re doing a lot of things right,” she said.

To read the final draft of the Merger/Shared Services Study, please visit:

Shared Services/Merger Study

Cuyahoga County has launched a new web site with all the news about the Community Merger click here for all the news including press releases, news articles, committee reports and FAQs.

Press Release
Community Invitation to Feb. 7/8 Municipal Hall Meeting to Discuss
the Launch of the Shared Services/Merger Study

Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere, Ohio, January 18, 2013 – The Shared Services/Merger Study is being launched through a series of municipal hall events on Thursday, February 7, and Friday, February 8.

These meetings will provide the community with an opportunity to learn about the study process and to join the conversation around both merger and shared services. The meeting will include an overview of the project, information about some of the key characteristics of the four communities, an interactive live survey and a roundtable discussion of challenges and opportunities.

The meeting will be moderated by the project consultant, the Center for Governmental Research of Rochester, New York.

Each of the events will follow the same format, so please attend the meeting that is most convenient to you.

Public Meeting Information
Thursday, February 7th
1:30 pm – Woodmere Village Hall at 27899 Chagrin Boulevard
4:00 pm – Orange Village Hall at 4600 Lander Road
7:00 pm – Moreland Hills Village Hall at 4350 SOM. Center Road
Friday, February 8th
8:30 am – Pepper Pike City Hall at 28000 Shaker Boulevard

About CGR
CGR is a 98-year-old independent nonprofit strategic consulting and decision support organization with significant expertise conducting local government merger and shared service studies and developing implementation plans across New York and the Northeast. CGR is headquartered in Rochester, NY and in December, 2012, was engaged by Cuyahoga County and the involved municipalities to serve as study consultant.

Press Release
Possible merger between Moreland Hills, Orange Village, Pepper Pike and Woodmere to be analyzed

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County has selected the non-profit Center for Governmental Research of Rochester, New York (“CGR”) to lead the Merger/Shared Services Study involving Moreland Hills, Orange Village, Pepper Pike, and Woodmere. CGR will serve as project manager and produce by June a report on the merits of increasing shared services between the communities or possibly merging two, three or all four of them.

“This is an exciting development in our efforts to help communities find more efficient ways to deliver services,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. “CGR has a proven track record and the four mayors have stepped forward as leaders in finding new, more cost-effective approaches to local government.”

Click here to read the full press release at the Cuyahoga County - Office of the Executive web site.
The State of Ohio today awarded a $100,000 Local Government Innovation Fund
(LGIF) grant for a Merger/Shared Services study being advanced by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and four suburban Mayors.
Read the press release

Merger/Shared Services Study
"Merger/Shared Services Study for the Village of Moreland Hills, Orange Village, the City of Pepper Pike, and the Village of Woodmere"
Published by March 1, 2012
Cuyahoga County
County Executive Edward FitzGerald

An indepth study of the possible community merger is available on-line in pdf format. This 500 page study explores all aspects of a community merger.

Four Mayors Announce Merger Discussions
Mayors of Pepper Pike, Orange Village, Moreland Hills and Woodmere willing to begin a process.

Corporate Club - Mayors Discuss Possible Merger - 10/6/11
Mayors answer callers' questions on WCPN - talk radio.
Possible Community Merger - In The News
Briefing from Ed FitzGerald

Press Release 6-22-2011

Municipal Services Collaboration Study

Baldwin Wallace performed a Municipal Services Collaboration Study including Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange Village, and Pepper Pike. Read the study on-line

Mayors' Merger Statement
June 22, 2011

Mayor Bruce Akers of Pepper Pike; Mayor Kathy Mulcahy of Orange Village, Mayor Susan Renda of Moreland Hills, and Mayor Charles Smith of Woodmere announced today that they feel the time is now appropriate for the four municipalities to seriously consider and to take the necessary steps to determine if merging the four into one community is in the best interests of their collective residents, economically and otherwise.

Historically, these four were all part of one governmental entity, then known as Orange Township. In fact, if you look up the biography of President James A. Garfield, you will note that he was born in Orange Township, but the log cabin was located in what is today Moreland Hills.

The Mayors said a merger between these specific communities could make sense since they already share the same school system, the same recreation department, the same senior citizens programs, and the same library.

At a time when there is increasing need for more governmental efficiencies and reductions in the costs of government, this step towards evaluating a merger of the four communities is long overdue. The mayors believe it is possible that, by reducing redundancies and integrating their services collaboratively, taxpayer dollars could be saved, thus easing the burden on each of our constituents now and in the future. It is increasingly evident that local governments just can’t keep doing business as usual.

The four mayors asked Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald if the County can assist in a study, perhaps with their resources in the County Planning Commission.

The mayors approached County Executive FitzGerald because they have been impressed with, and are encouraged by, Mr. FitzGerald’s comments on, and commitment to greater collaboration among local governments. In his meeting with the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association after his election, his inauguration address and his State of the County address, Mr. FitzGerald has called for more such collaborations. Through his commitment and far-sighted leadership, a thorough analysis of the benefits of merger could serve as a guide for other communities asking the same sort of questions on behalf of their constituents. These four mayors asked to serve as the County’s pilot case study.

Clearly, any sort of merger will take time, careful thought and patient deliberations. Under Ohio law, any such merger would ultimately have to be approved by the voters in all of the involved communities at a General Election. Whether it gets put before the voters in a year, two or three down the road, only time and results will tell. An initial step would be for a citizens committee to be formed to begin the discussion and participate in the process. The County should lead those deliberations.

While the study of a full merger is underway, the four mayors will continue to explore opportunities to share services and take advantage of other efficiencies that can be achieved through working collaboratively to serve all of their constituents. Ultimately, these efforts, in combination with the information learned from the study, will ensure that the residents of the four communities have the most effective governance structure with the highest quality of services in the most economical manner possible.

Today’s realities dictate bold initiatives, and while there will understandably be resistance, and even outright opposition to the mere thought of a possible merger, the four mayors feel strongly that the time is right for all the options to be considered. Only time and facts will tell.

ORANGE VILLAGE 4600 Lander Rd. Orange Village, Ohio 44022 440-498-4400