Congress and the White House need to negotiate their way to a responsible settlement, and soon, in the ongoing fiscal debate in Washington. Concern about "winning" and "losing" in the eyes of the public no doubt factors into their mutual obstinance.

It's probably not a whole lot different in a more localized battle of wills and money here in Bakersfield. Our municipal government, led by City Manager Alan Tandy, is at odds with our county government, led by Kern County Administrative Officer John Nilon, over how to share the costs of a joint animal control operation most equitably. Failure to reach a deal could result in two separate, largely redundant animal control operations, with all of the wasted tax dollars that would entail.

Tandy says the city should get credit for the property taxes city residents pay to the county for county services. Nilon says the county should get credit for under-reimbursed services it provides to city residents, such as search and rescue operations, coroner, jails and libraries. Semantics have taken a beating in this tiresome battle of territory, ego and influence.

Gentlemen, it can't be this tough. If your two entities can't agree on what "is" is, the rest of America has plenty of examples you might borrow. Joint operating agreements between governments for animal control services and other relevant operations are abundant across this land. Find a model and copy it.

But know this: Local taxpayers expect you to do the responsible thing. Inevitably, both of you will have to budge a little. So, in the spirit of compromise and necessity, budge already.