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The commission cut short its review because of time constraints, but members praised past city efforts to collaborate.
(Published Jun 27, 2012)
On June 27 the legislative auditor presented his Report on Consolidation of Local Government to the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC). Released in April, the report examines the potential for greater local government consolidation and cooperation in Minnesota. (Read related May 9 article for a summary of the report’s findings.)
A number of LAC members had scheduling conflicts, so the legislative auditor limited his comments to less than five minutes. He expressed his hope that the Legislature could give local governments additional tools and incentives for consolidation and collaboration efforts.
This statement was echoed by Sen. Jim Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul), who praised the work of the Government Innovation and Cooperation Board, which was dissolved by the Legislature in 2002, in funding city efforts at collaborating and streamlining services. Sen. Metzen specifically noted the merger of Norwood Young America, as well as capital projects in Inver Grove Heights and Hutchinson, as examples of cities working together to cut costs and improve service delivery.
Audit report documents city collaboration efforts
The legislative auditor sent questionnaires to all local units of government and received responses from over 570 cities. Although consolidation of local governments is rare in Minnesota, the report noted that 74 percent of cities that responded to the surveys indicated that they participated in at least one cooperative service agreement with another local government in 2010. In addition, 40 percent of city respondents indicated that the number of local governments with which they collaborated increased between 2005 and 2010.
The League has worked with cities for many years on intergovernmental collaboration efforts, and the recent economic downturn has brought renewed focus to these longstanding efforts. The League has developed an interactive database of these efforts so that cities and the general public can learn more about past and current collaboration efforts with an eye toward expanding collaboration when feasible and cost-effective.
The League encourages members to review the City Collaboration Lookup, and contact staff to ask questions or tell us about a collaborative effort your city has undertaken.
The legislative auditor’s report contains few specific recommendations for legislative action, but collaboration of city services will continue to be a frequent discussion topic during the next legislative session.