Consolidating programs and services whenever practical is a win-win situation for all. Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County are to be commended for considering merging some recreation programs. The next step is to do it and then to look at other areas of service and apply that same principle.

For decades, county and city recreation programs have competed for residents' leisure time. In many instances it was needless if not confusing competition that undermined both efforts.Both programs will benefit from the proposed change. The city is hoping the merger will allow the county to operate several of the city's recreational assets - including the Steiner Aquatics Centers, the Liberty Park Pool, sports programming, the Corporate Games, tennis programs, Raging Waters and a proposed ice sheet and field sports complex.

Such a move would reduce the unproductive overlap that now exists between two recreation departments serving the same population. As noted by Salt Lake City Recreation Director Roger Black, the county is better suited to managing several of the city facilities, complementing the county's expertise in managing pool and multipurpose center operations.

A merger would also allow the city to focus its recreation resources on other areas it does well.

The County Commission agrees with the philosophy of merging some of the assets of the city's $2.8 million recreation program with the county's $28 million program. It approved a motion Monday to allow the county's recreation division to pursue the merger proposal toward final approval at a later date.

Consolidation of recreation programs is an example of something that needs to happen in other areas of government overlap as well. This page has long advocated combining the many law-enforcement agencies within Salt Lake County. It would save money and eliminate confusion and duplication - just as it's going to do in the area of recreation.

The current hodgepodge leads to overlapping services and confusion regarding the law-enforcement relationship between Salt Lake County and cities within the county. As the population increases, the problem is only going to get worse.

Which is why one law-enforcement agency that covers the entire county makes a lot of sense. Resources and communication would be maximized and enhanced.

Growth in the Salt Lake Valley brings challenges and difficult choices. It also provides opportunities for innovative thinking. The city and county are showing that kind of innovation with their approach to recreation. They need to extend it to other areas.