Combining Local Government Services
The basic premise of the research and outreach project is to compile useful information about local government collaboration and consolidation among Michigan communities. This field is begging for empirical information on the benefits and impediments of cooperative multi-jurisdictional efforts.
Collaboration/cooperation/consolidation is one of the most important local government issues in Michigan today, and it presents an area of great opportunity for improving the competitiveness of individual communities and regions, and the state as a whole.
The issue and challenge of intergovernmental cooperation is defined by social, economic, and political factors, all of which will be investigated in this multi-disciplinary approach, because the most economically efficient solutions may not make sense politically, socially, or geographically.
The project consists of a series of separate but integrated research platforms designed so that the final product will generate research-oriented outlets along with education and policy information and tools. The three platforms include addressing the issues of what is necessary for cooperation/collaboration to occur, investigating the fiscal issues and considerations that need to be taken into account, and addressing what issues are necessary to maintain cooperation/collaboration. The project takes a statewide look at services, such as Dispatch Centers, Planning and Zoning, and Fire Protection, and a more limited approach to other services, such as Property Assessment.
The overall objectives of the study include:
- Conducting a preliminary analysis of communities that are currently collaborating and determine the underlying common characteristics that differentiate cooperating and non-cooperating communities.
- Undertaking a local governmental survey, using a case study approach, building upon previous research, to obtain specific price/cost information on particular governmental services provided to the local community.
- Developing an econometric analysis of the financial benefits of collaboration/cooperation for specific services using a cost function approach.
a. Determine what services are provided, and how, to communities of a particular size.
- Providing information on who is cooperating where and on what conditions and community characteristics may be conducive to cooperation/collaboration and which may not.
a. Conduct a survey of elected officials and administrators, as well as a survey of citizens.
- Providing recommendations to state leaders regarding how they can influence/encourage local government cooperation (e.g. increase revenue sharing opportunities for jurisdictions that cooperate or consolidate).
These objectives target audiences at the local government level, as well as the Michigan citizenry as a whole. Once the information is compiled, it can also be addressed to the state, which can further leverage local government cooperation. The fourth objective of the project will be to provide recommendations to state leaders regarding how they can influence/encourage local government cooperation (e.g. increase revenue sharing opportunities for jurisdictions that cooperate or consolidate). The Governor's Centers of Regional Excellence initiative, headed by Maxine Berman, will feed into this study; Maxine Berman's office is currently identifying models of cooperation in Michigan, as well as a toolbox of activities that local governments can use when deciding whether and how to collaborate.
In terms of deliverables, this project will focus on both research and education/policy outlets. Educational bulletins will be produced to serve as information for citizens and government officials in assessing the benefits, cost, and barriers to intergovernmental service cooperation and consolidation. A conference on "Intergovernmental Cooperation in Michigan: A Policy Conference" was held to examine, deliberate, debate, and formulate policy options in the arena of intergovernmental cooperation and consolidation.
A project deliverable will be a policy document that will be resource information for state policymakers as they shap the institutional structure and incentives within which intergovernmental cooperation can be fostered.
The analysis will attempt to identify optimal places and situations for consolidation or cooperative efforts regarding services and the types of incentives that the state could implement to encourage intergovernmental cooperation. This policy document will be distributed to state executive and legislative branch leaders, as well to local government officials and local government organizations.
Accomplishments to Date
Progress to date on the Local Government Services study includes:
- Held the first and second annual Lynn Harvey seminar featuring international speakers.
- Completed an annotated bibliography of economies of scale research in the provision of public services.
- Completed a "Tools for Intergovernmental Cooperation Series: Financing and Cost Allocation" Handbook.
- Completed a study on Dispatch Centers in Michigan.
- Presented "Economies of Scale in the Provision of Dispatch Services" at a national conference.
- A journal article is currently under review.
- Completed over five surveys to collect data for analysis. Survey topics include Dispatch Center, Planning and Zoning, Fire, Property Assessment, and Attitudes about Cooperation. All are at various stages of analysis and write-up.
- Held "Intergovernmental Cooperation in Michigan: A Policy Conference" on May 17 and 18, 2007. The agenda and white papers are available and a report summarizing the conference will be available soon.
- "School District and Municipal Reorganization: Research Findings & Policy Proposals" - Eric Scorsone from MSU Agricultural Economics testified before the Michigan House of Representatives' Intergovernmental, Urban, and Regional Affairs Committee on February 21, 2007, and at the Michigan Senate's Local, Urban, and State Affairs Committee on March 6, 2007.
Among the individuals participating in the study are:
- Soji Adelaja, MSU Land Policy Institute
- Eric Scorsone, MSU Agricultural Economics
- Jered Carr, Wayne State University
- Eric Lupher, Citizens Research Council
- Melissa A. Gibson, MSU Land Policy Institute
- Liz Gerber, University of Michigan
- Paul Courant, University of Michigan
- Roger Hamlin, MSU Geography
- John Warbach, MSU Land Policy Institute
- Mark Wyckoff, Planning & Zoning Center at MSU
- Lynn Harvey, MSU Agricultural Economics
- John Hoehn, MSU Agricultural Economics
- Naheed Huq, South Eastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)
- Mary Beth Lake, MSU Land Policy Institute
- Joe Ohren, Eastern Michigan University
- Igor Vojnovic, MSU Geography
- Conan Smith, Michigan Suburbs Alliance
Melissa A. Gibson
phone: 517-432-8800 ext 110
3rd Floor Manly Miles Bldg
1405 South Harrison Rd
East Lansing, MI 48823