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Area cities look at joint bidding

Officials from Cottage Grove, Newport and St. Paul Park met again last week to formally discuss ways to share services and save cash, and a report delivered to Cottage Grove City Council members last week laid out public works contracts as the most viable opportunity for the cities to team up.

The three south Washington County cities have discussed cooperative possibilities periodically in 2009 as the officials from each search for cost savings to ease pressure on city budgets stretched thin.

Now, according to Cottage Grove City Administrator Ryan Schroeder's report to city council members, the discussion between what was called the Tri-City Cooperative in the minutes of a meeting last month has begun to focus on public works -- specifically the potential benefits of joint bidding processes for things like seal coating projects or road salt supplies.

"That's the easiest, most straight-forward" area for the cities to cooperate, Schroeder said. "It's just a unit price kind of thing."

At a very minimum, Schroeder said, Cottage Grove would allow Newport and St. Paul Park the opportunity to insert their work in Cottage Grove contracts.

"If (there are) areas where cities can get together and save money," said St. Paul Park administrator Kevin Walsh, "it's a no-brainer."

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey met earlier this year with Newport Mayor Tim Geraghty and St. Paul Park Mayor John Hunziker -- as well as Bill Hargis, mayor of Woodbury -- and says he is confident the cities will reach an agreement to share services.

"The benefit is teamwork, working together as communities with similar issues," Bailey said. The savings might not be huge, he said, "but we'll take every dollar we can save."