Advantages of Intergovernmental Agreements for Municipal Services and Programs

Many municipalities throughout Michigan are still reeling from the affects decreased housing values have had on tax revenues. Counties, Cities, Townships and Villages have all been forced to adjust budgets and, in many situations, cut back on services provided to residents.

One of the few good things that have resulted is the increased intergovernmental cooperation in providing services. Many municipalities are entering into intergovernmental agreements between two or more entities for the provision of services and programs. Although each agreement is unique, the law allows great flexibility in the establishment of these joint agreements between municipalities. Many examples of these agreements can be found throughout the state. They include:

  • joint operation of fire or police departments;
  • joint operation of dispatch systems;
  • joint operation of Parks and Recreation programs and facilities;
  • joint public transportation systems; and
  • joint purchasing programs.

These joint agreements are designed to allow participating municipalities to decrease the overall cost of administration, as well as create opportunities for better bargaining positions for the purchase of common goods and services used to carry out governmental functions.

Local leaders are constantly looking for ways to provide services to their residents in a cost effective manner. “Intergovernmental cooperation is absolutely essential for municipalities to be able to provide the same high level of services in communities with decreasing tax bases,” says Tracey Schultz Kobylarz, Supervisor of Redford Township and current Chair of the Conference of Western Wayne, a consortium of 18 Wayne County communities working together to improve the quality of life in the region. “Few municipalities are able to ‘go it alone’as they could in the past.”

Some communities have been hesitant to use such agreements because of a perceived loss of autonomy or control in the provision of services. That fear can be erased by a carefully drafted agreement that provides for input and oversight by all municipalities participating. Agreements are tailored to fit the specific local needs of the communities and reduce the cost of providing for those needs.

The Governor’s office has long touted the advantages of intergovernmental cooperation. Various programs have been initiated in Lansing to encourage the combining of services among municipalities and have even provided financial incentives for municipalities to do so.

Attorneys in CMDA’s municipal practice group are ready to assist any governmental entities who are in a position to take advantage of intergovernmental agreements.

Jeff Clark is a partner in our Livonia office and is the head of the Firm’s Municipal Law practice group. He concentrates his practice on municipal law, FOIA/OMA, general liability defense and prevention and personal injury defense litigation. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or