Exploring regionalization is a viable option for smaller municipalities struggling with the rising costs of emergency services.

It should not be used as a negotiating tool, intended only to squeeze concessions out of a police union, for example.

That's disingenuous, wastes the time of everyone involved and devalues the very real benefits -- in some cases -- of consolidating or purchasing services from a neighboring department.

But just because a municipality begins exploring its options as a contract nears its end doesn't mean officials are trying something underhanded. When else would it start -- at the beginning or middle of a contract?

It's all about timing and being able to make the switch if officials decide it can get the same level of service at a cheaper price.

Unfortunately, residents of West York will never know if they could have gotten a better deal.

At least not officially.

The borough's contract with its police department is up at the end of this year, and in early February the council voted to send requests for police service costs to five area departments. Of those five, only York City and Northern York County Regional returned proposals.

During a raucous meeting Monday night at the Reliance Fire Co.'s social hall, the borough council voted 4-3 against pursuing those offers. This was after hearing nearly two hours of comments from residents -- almost all of them supporting the borough's own police department.

The opposition to regionalization is understandable.

Even with regionalized departments that have proven successful, there were some critics at the beginning who feared the loss of local control or a decrease in the level of service. In some cases, those fears are founded. The numbers don't always work out.

But the elected officials in West York at least should have taken a look at the numbers before voting.

Not only did the four council members who voted against consolidation not open the bids submitted by York City and Northern York County Regional, they also voted to shred the proposals sight unseen.

What possible reason could there be for that move other than fear the bids might -- just might -- have shown their opposition is based on emotion and not reality?

The four council members also could have stuck their fingers in their ears and shouted "La, la, la," but it wouldn't have changed the numbers in those proposals.

Those numbers, by the way, will almost surely come out.

While those West York officials might be fine shredding public documents, officials in York City and with Northern Regional probably aren't as loose with the state's open records laws.

Maybe the naysayers on the borough council were moved by the emotions in the room Monday night.

One business owner asked those in attendance to raise their hands if they wanted to keep local police and nearly all did.

"I'm not a mathematician, but I'm assuming the majority of people want to keep the police department," said Mike Stantzos, owner of Crazy Tomato.

Actually, all that showed was that most of those in that particular room felt strongly about keeping the department. But the borough, which occupies half a square mile, had 4,617 residents as of the 2010 Census.

We're not mathmaticians, either, but we doubt 2,309 residents attended that meeting.

The council should work on behalf of all taxpayers -- not just the loudest few.