Volusia County Leaders Build Relationships Between City and County Governments
Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno
An on-going challenge facing all local governments: Can city and county governments work together to ensure that the interests of all citizens are considered?
In Volusia County, less than two years ago, the Volusia County government and the 16 cities in Volusia were at odds over a wide variety of issues, primarily related to annexation and services. The situation reached a crescendo during the November 2006 election when a number of charter amendments failed to remedy the situation.
Instead of continuing their discord, city and county leaders took that election as their cue that it was time for them to start forging relationships and working together.
During his annual State of the County Address on January 22, 2008, Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno proudly reported to the audience of more than 500 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach that the last year has resulted in unprecedented cooperation between city and county leaders.
“Last year, following a divisive election on charter amendments, I told you that I believed our residents wanted their governments to work together,” Bruno said. “We share the same basic values and the same desire to protect and improve our quality of life. It just makes sense for the County and the cities to foster a closer relationship, for us to look beyond our own self interests and begin thinking – and acting - regionally.”
“I’m pleased to tell you that this year we have seen an unprecedented level of cooperation and communication between the cities and the County.”
As part of a strategy to promote the development of trust, Bruno has been meeting monthly with the City Mayors to discuss important issues facing the county and municipalities. Bruno also recognized County Manager Jim Dinneen and credited him for the new atmosphere of government collaboration. Dinneen has been hosting monthly meetings of all City Managers that also focus on working together.
“ As a result, we have focused on creating partnerships -- partnerships with our cities, partnerships with our businesses, with our schools and universities, our civic organizations, and our surrounding counties. And our most important partnership, the one we have with you, our residents,” Bruno said. “This idea of consolidating and combining services is, of course, nothing new. But working together has become significantly more important as those of us in government evolve to meet the challenge of providing essential public services with shrinking revenue.”
To emphasize the new focus on partnerships, Bruno showed a video that highlighted a number of road projects in which the county and city governments are partnering to ensure that the roads are built quickly, rather than waiting for outside funding that would delay construction by several years.
He also illustrated partnerships on projects designed to enhance the economic vitality of the county as well as others on projects that will enhance the quality of life for citizens across Volusia County.
You can read the entire state of the county address and see the accompanying video at http://volusia.org/countycouncil/state08.htm.