As cities, counties and school districts scrounge to save dollars, they're exploring the pooling of resources.

--New Jersey recently passed a law to allow municipalities to band together in negotiating cable television deals. Franchises would be granted for longer periods of time and operate under the same terms in two or more bordering municipalities. By negotiating as a team, localities figure they will have more leverage on rates.

--Imperial and Tulare, agricultural counties in California with high unemployment rates, sit 350 miles apart, but their economic development agencies are sharing ideas and contacts--even co-hosting booths together at trade shows. "We're both small organizations with limited financial resources," says Paul Sadana, president of the Tulare County Economic Development Corp. Both counties court dairy concerns, for example, but because of their locations, they don't usually compete for the same projects.

--Proximity can make sharing resources easier. The superintendent of Iowa's Northwood-Kensett school district is studying a merger with a Minnesota district four miles away. This would be the first cross- border consolidation for districts in either state. Because of the complications such as differing teacher salary schedules and the need for both states to sign off on the merger, the districts may stop short of a full union but may share students and resources.