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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2011

CONTACT:   Matt Bach
Dir. of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317 or mbach@mml.org

New League Survey Shows Michigan Communities
Saving Money with Shared Services

LANSING, Mich. - Across Michigan, municipalities are already doing exactly what Gov. Rick Snyder is asking local governments to do: adopting cost-cutting “best practices” that save taxpayer money while continuing to provide vital services to residents, a new survey conducted by the Michigan Municipal League finds.

Some 129 communities responding to the MML survey provided details of more than 640 examples of how they are already sharing services, saving taxpayer dollars and improving operational efficiencies.

Some examples:

  • On the state’s west side, six cities and Kent County share all the costs to provide everything from animal control services to waste disposal.
  • In central Michigan, the city of Alma provides fire protection to four surrounding townships – a practice that’s been the norm in Gratiot County for decades.
  • In the Upper Peninsula, the “new” city of Iron River is the result of the total consolidation of three separate municipalities.
  • In southeast Michigan, Mount Clemens totally disbanded its police department in 2005 to contract with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department, saving 1.4 mills in the first year.

A complete list of the findings of the MML survey can be found below.

“The notion that local governments are not sharing services to save money and improve efficiencies is simply untrue,” said MML Board President Carol Shafto, Mayor of Alpena. “Across Michigan, municipalities large and small are saving hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars by sharing and consolidating services.”

MML Executive Director and CEO Dan Gilmartin added: “Our survey only scratches the surface of what local governments are already doing to operate as efficiently as possible. But if the Governor and Legislature slash revenue sharing even more, there won’t be services to share or consolidate. They will simply have to be eliminated, and that means less or no police and fire protection, no snow plowing, no parks and libraries, and many other cuts that will negatively affect quality of life and place in Michigan.”

Recently, the governor asked MML to compile examples of shared services already in use. The response to the MML’s informal survey was overwhelming, showing the depth and breadth of cooperation occurring at the local level.

Arnold Weinfeld, MML’s director of strategic initiatives and federal affairs, and Summer Minnick, MML’s director of state affairs, will present the findings of the survey at noon today to the Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. They also will deliver the information to Gov. Snyder’s office as he’s requested.

“We know with certainty that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of additional examples of service sharing at the local levels that were not indentified on our survey because it was only in the field for a short time,” Minnick said. “In reality, most local governments participate in many more collaborative endeavors that were not reported. For example, our survey found 24 examples of shared service with regard to public libraries, but there are nearly five times that many district libraries operating in the state, covering hundreds more municipalities.”

Respondents offered 70 examples related to fire services, ranging from simple collaboration in training staff to fully consolidated departments. In addition, more than 100 consolidated fire departments exist in Michigan, operating as true Fire Authorities and regional community departments.

Many municipalities provide a wide range of services to surrounding areas through inter-municipal agreements, especially water, sewer and related utility services. These formal service-sharing agreements have created hundreds of successful collaborative service-sharing situations. 

The Southeast Michigan Council of Government (SEMCOG) has more than 249 examples of locally shared services in its database. For example, more than 40 municipalities have formally joined together to create 13 recreation authorities across the state. Several large recycling authorities encompass numerous municipalities, such as the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County serving the communities of Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, South Lyon, Southfield, Walled Lake, and Wixom. The consolidated authority SOCRRA provides similar services to Berkley, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Troy.

The MML survey also does not include services that have been privatized or contracted out.

“If those examples were included in the survey, we would be reporting literally thousands of examples of local government best practices to lower costs for their taxpayers and residents,” Weinfeld said.

MML said local governments could do more service sharing and better manage their budgets if the Legislature and Governor would change two state laws — the Urban Cooperation Act and Public Act 312. The Urban Cooperation Act currently contains roadblocks that make it too expensive for local governments to share certain services. Instead of resolving labor disputes, certain provisions in PA 312 often result in higher costs for fewer police and firefighters.

Please contact Matt Bach, Communications Director for the Michigan Municipal League, for more information.

Resources:

Shared Services Survey Responses(PDF)

Kent County Case Study (PDF)

Michigan District Libraries

SEMCOG: Southeast Michigan Council of Governments

Recreation Authorities: Michigan Recreation & Park Association

 

Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.

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