Out of the ashes of Mount Carmel may emerge a new era of cooperation between Waco and its suburbs, local officials say.
The effort, called “Community of Cities,” will have its formal kickoff at an Aug. 5 workshop hosted by the city of Waco. At the meeting, officials from Waco, McLennan County and eight suburbs will discuss issues of common concern.
Waco Mayor Bob Sheehy said the idea came after city officials began briefing their counterparts about the Waco Image Task Force, the blue-ribbon panel formed to deal with the aftermath of the Branch Davidian standoff and fire this spring.
“We got to discussing the matters of cooperation between all the cities of our community,” he said. “It evolved into a matter of why don’t we have a workshop where we begin to discuss where the community can work better together.”
Woodway Mayor Don Moes said there are numerous issues in which area cities already work together, such as contract for ambulance service with American Medical Transport and the county’s collection of property taxes for several cities and school districts.
Where there is cooperation, there usually is savings for the taxpayers, Moes said.
“What we’re trying to do is find other areas where we can work together,” he said.
Other cities invited to the workshop are Bellmead, Beverly Hills, Hewitt, Lacy-Lakeview, Lorena, Northcrest, Robinson and Woodway.
“We’re no longer a group of individual cities all going our own ways,” Sheehy said. “We’re interwoven in the way of economic development, in the way of police protection, in the way of health, public utilities.”
The most significant recent development in the area’s intergovernmental relations is the city of Waco’s possible sale of Lake Waco water to several suburbs.
Already in place are agreements under which Waco will sell water to some of its neighbors in times of emergency.
Other areas of cooperation include the auctioning of surplus city property, purchasing, police and fire mutual aid agreements, landfill needs, the animal shelter and sewer services.
Moes said it is important that the smaller communities be willing to work with Waco.
“Quite obviously, they are the core of the county. We have to work with them. Why not like dong it instead of being adversarial?” Moes said.
The workshop is an offshoot of a series of luncheon meetings between area mayors. Although nothing solid has come from the meetings, Moes said, they have served a useful purpose.
“What happened is that we finally got to know each other on a first-name basis,” he said.
The “Community of Cities” workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5 in Knox Hall at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.