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Champ excels in key areas

Eighteen cities, big and small: Which is most efficient of all?

Read on and we’ll tell you.

First, understand this: The reasons why this certain city — for now, let’s call it “Valueville” — finished tops speak to the overall lessons learned from The Kansas City Star’s analysis of the 18 largest metro governments and their performance in eight key services.

Valueville had to be stellar in fire and police protection, the two most complex and significant services a city can offer. (After all, you can’t dismiss lives saved.)

Safety being such a strong tipping point, the cost-benefit king turned out not to be an urban center or a ferociously sprawling suburb. Police departments that are more compact or that have been split into tight geographic units deliver the most for the dollar.

In the end our victor didn’t need to perform so high in parks and recreation — and Valueville didn’t. But it’s small enough to be in touch with its residents on other day-to-day needs.

Overall, smaller cities tended to rate better.

The winner performed well in such basic services as water and sewers. As for streets, it might find an even more efficient future in new surfacing techniques that keep more drivers happy.

Like many places, this one presents a question mark in solid-waste removal. It does offer citywide trash and recycling services (as more communities might do to control costs, now and in the future).

To keep the crown, Valueville’s leaders might study if it can get a better trash deal. At $140 per household, they’re paying almost double what Olathe and Kansas City pay but far below the rate for private trash pickup in other neighborhoods.

Put all those lessons together and you have our efficiency champ:

Liberty.

Who’s best?

Six cities tied for top water:

Belton, Blue Springs, Gladstone, Independence, Lawrence and Olathe

Four cities tied for top sewer:

Blue Springs, Lawrence, Leavenworth and Raytown

Two cities tied in solid waste:

Lee’s Summit and Olathe

City Services: Who's doing the best job?

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