Strained Northeast cities are increasingly looking to service sharing for savings and cost efficiencies. Harsh economic times have some governments at least thinking of tearing down old barriers between turf and jobs.

“It’s still in the evolutionary process,” said Dean Kaplan, a managing director at PFM Group Inc. Consulting firms such as PFM, which works with some of Pennsylvania’s 27 distressed communities, encourage the practice. Pittsburgh, for example, has an agreement with the nearby, 16,000-population borough of Wilkinsburg to provide fire prevention and trash pickup.

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