Tools & Techniques>An Explanation

What is Intergovernmental Cooperation?
Oftentimes, local governments can achieve a common goal by joining together and pooling scarce resources. Intergovernmental cooperation is a good tool to address natural resource protection due to the fact that natural features are often located across governmental boundaries. A formal cooperation agreement can be established with exact operational and financial details for providing a service or program. The contents of the agreement will vary, but typically include: purpose, duration, establishment of a board/commission, formula for computing each municipality's contribution for capital and operating expenses, and method for allocating revenues and costs.

Communities have great flexibility in the use of intergovernmental cooperation agreements. Some typical examples include the following: joint operation of municipal services, joint fire or police departments/joint service agreements, joint administration of zoning ordinances, joint public transportation systems, and creation/maintenance of parks and trail systems. Agencies that are eligible for participation in such agreements include local governments, special/multi-purpose districts, school districts, state or federal governments, and any of their agencies or subdivisions.

Intergovernmental cooperation is especially important when there are several separate municipalities and other governmental agencies that operate in a region and affect the area's environmental health.

An intergovernmental agreement allows great flexibility in establishing joint agreements, for the provision of services and programs, between any governmental agency on the local, regional or state level.
Agreements are locally negotiated to fit specific local needs.
Because agreements, including the powers and duties assigned to a new board/commission, are locally negotiated, communities can safeguard against a loss of local control.

Local units may perceive a loss of control or autonomy in such agreements.
Board/commission established cannot issue revenue bonds.

This information was adapted from 'Shiawassee & Huron Headwaters Preservation Project' developed for Oakland County by Carlisle Wortman & Associates.
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