It is no secret that the past few years have been rough on local government. The ability to provide services in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner has proven an arduous task for many public agencies that face ever-declining revenues.

In response to the economic downtown, many local leaders have chosen to consolidate services with neighboring agencies in an effort to save precious tax dollars. This is undoubtedly at play in California.

Last month, National Public Radio featured a discussion on this precise issue during their daily Morning Report. Entitled, “Communities Debate Whether Sharing Services Saves Money,” hosts Renee Montagne and David Greene discuss the costs—both financially and in terms of a city’s character and autonomy—of pursuing shared service agreements.

Montagne and Greene cite several examples, including a Milwaukee-area consolidated dispatch center that serves over 29 communities as well as a larger example in New Jersey.

With the conversation around consolidation continuing to take place here in California, it may be worthwhile to hear the successes of other agencies and the barriers they faced along the way.

Listen to the full discussion or read the transcript at NPR.