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Back in June, a Buffalo News survey brought to light that local governments were investing their idle cash in varying ways with varying degrees of success. Orchard Park, for instance, has developed an investment plan that does quite well in yielding extra income to ease the town's property tax burden. Some other communities were barely trying, however.

Now, Erie County Comptroller Nancy A. Naples and Buffalo Comptroller Joel A. Giambra have invited officials from the county's local governments and school districts to a Sept. 11 gathering that could lead to creation of a cooperative program in which the governments would pool their funds for investment purposes.

The object would be higher earnings with less administrative overhead. In theory, smaller governments, unable or unwilling to take the time to develop and follow an investment plan, could get a higher rate of return by joining together to roll their idle funds into a large amount and having them better managed in a centralized fashion. It all makes sense and is well worth a try.

By latest count, about 30 governments out of about 75 invitees have registered for the Sept. 11 meeting. New state legislation allows such inter-municipal investment cooperatives. Under the plan, the county and the city would act as advisers in getting the cooperative off the ground. A special board composed of representatives of all the participating governments would run it, however.

At the very least, local governments should go out of the way to have representatives on hand Sept. 11 to learn about the possibilities. The News survey showed some of them making only minimal efforts to capitalize on their earning potential. They can do better in a cooperative.

For their financial health, local governments should be seeking ways to do things jointly with their neighbors. Here's a rational way.

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