The recent effort by Oneida County to pave a stretch of Utica road between Lansing and John streets was a first, says County Executive Anthony Picente.

Hopefully, it won't be a last.

Be clear: That's not to suggest county taxpayers be required to foot the bill to pave Utica's streets.

It is to suggest, however, that when it comes to improving area infrastructure, municipalities look for ways to work together on projects that can benefit the community at large, whether it be paving roads or plowing them.

The latest effort in Utica became part of a $2.9 million project to improve parking and access to the Park Avenue side of the Oneida County Office Building. Usually the county isn't allowed to pave city roads, Picente said, but since it was connected to the county office building project to improve access and parking there, it was deemed permissible. Utica Deputy Engineer Mike Mahoney said the county assistance will save the city more than $100,000 - money that's been reappropriated to pave three blocks of Arthur Street, a project that otherwise would not have been possible.

"This gives us an opportunity that we wouldn't otherwise have had," Mayor Robert Palmieri said. "We have a great relationship, and that partnership is a strong component of why the county and the city are working in the right direction to get the best possible end result."

Such municipal cooperation can - and has - worked elsewhere.  For instance, several years ago a devastating fire wiped out the Town of Marshall's highway equipment - six plow trucks, two front-end loaders, tools and maintenance equipment - in the middle of winter, no less.  But thanks to loaned plows from two contiguous towns to its north and south - Kirkland and Sangerfield - Marshall highways workers didn't miss a beat in keeping town roads clear.

Governments are catching on. Just last month five Herkimer County law enforcement agencies announced a shared services agreement that is expected to save taxpayers money. Similar sharing of services and expensive equipment exist in other local municipalities, resulting in taxpayer savings.

Highway paving is expensive business. But we all want good roads, whether in our cities, suburbs or rural communities. So it goes with other services. Municipal cooperation is the key, and our leaders must continue to find ways to work together to that end for the benefit of us all.