Municipal Collaboration in Local Government

Regionalization or municipal collaboration continues to be a big topic in local government. It can be an especially useful pursuit in “home rule” states like Massachusetts with generally weak or no regional governments, and reliance on each city and town to provide residents with all local governmental services. As we know, local government budgets have been shrinking. Collaboration between municipalities is one important method to provide more efficient and effective services.

Massachusetts (among other states) has been working to promote collaborative practices over the past few years. For anyone interested, the state’s Regional Planning Agencies have developed a new Regionalization Guide for municipalities in Massachusetts.

We have also hosted an annual Regionalization Conference. This year’s (the 4th) was held on September 10th, in Worcester. There were a number of interesting ideas and programs communities have been pursuing, and tools to assist municipalities in their collaboration efforts. Those presentations will be available on the Regionalization Website shortly.

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Mark Sullivan

Shared services have gained a lot of traction as state and local governments have made cuts due to budget constraints. There may also be room for collaboration between state governments and local jurisdictions where the state can provide certain functions at a lower cost due to economies of scale (state and local health departments are a good example). Conversely, perhaps state agencies should examine providing services through local governments when those jurisdictions are more effective at point-of-service delivery.