Kent State Universityâ€™s Center for Public Administration and Public Policy today is releasing eight case studies on intergovernmental collaborative efforts in Northeast Ohio. The case studies describe how local governments can realize significant cost savings, service improvements and other benefits.
Since late 2009, analysts at the center have been monitoring progress made on collaborative projects proposed by eight finalists in the Fund for Our Economic Futureâ€™s first EfficientGovNow grant competition. The studies, produced in cooperation with Kent Stateâ€™s College of Public Health, are accessible at www.kent.edu/cpapp.
â€œThe studies yield valuable findings regarding the sustainability and potential benefits of local government collaborations,â€ said John Hoornbeek, director of the Center for Public Administration and Public Policy at Kent State. â€œThey also show, however, that successful efforts require work, energy and commitment on the part of those involved.â€
Representatives from Kent Stateâ€™s Center for Public Administration and Public Policy approached the grant finalists and eight of them agreed to cooperate in the development of case studies about their subsequent work.
The case studies being released today address a range of possible collaborative enterprises, including:
â€¢ Economic development, in Mahoning County and Hudson-Stow-Cuyahoga Falls;
â€¢ Public health services, among Summit County jurisdictions;
â€¢ Stormwater management and compliance, in Stark County jurisdictions;
â€¢ Vehicle fleet maintenance, in the city of Oberlin and surrounding jurisdictions;
â€¢ Dispatch center consolidation, between the city of Ashland and surrounding communities;
â€¢ Information technology integration, in Mahoning County, and;
â€¢ Fire department consolidation, coordinated by the Westshore Council of Governments.
Randy Cole, president of the state of Ohioâ€™s Controlling Board, said Kent State is a leader in researching collaboration among local governments.â€¨
â€œItâ€™s always good when we have a third-party, independent assessment that details works of collaboration and provides baseline information that we can use to assess other collaborative efforts,â€ Cole said. â€œThis information allows us to develop benchmarking measures on the efficiency and impact of shared services and collaboration.â€
In recent months, there has been considerable progress in state and regional efforts to foster productive intergovernmental collaborations. The new Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF), which has been supported by Gov. John Kasichâ€™s administration and passed by the state legislature, holds the potential to energize collaborative projects throughout the state.
The program holds the potential to energize local government collaborations in Ohio through $45 million in grants and loans authorized in last yearâ€™s Ohio state budget. The first LGIF application deadline is March 1.
At the same time, concentrated efforts in some areas of the state hold the potential to build ongoing reservoirs of trust and support for collaborations. Cuyahoga County Executive Edward Fitzgeraldâ€™s recently released â€œWestern Reserve Planâ€ and multiple initiatives from Summit County are noteworthy in this regard.
Ed Jerse, director of regional collaboration for Cuyahoga County, said he has long felt the need for a â€œplaybookâ€ on local government collaboration, so he welcomed the news that Kent State was working on the project.
â€œAs I talked to area mayors, I heard that they wanted to collaborate but they didnâ€™t always know how,â€ Jerse said. â€œKent State is developing a very valuable resource that will complement our efforts to support collaborations.â€
By reviewing these individual case studies, local officials and other interested parties can gain an appreciation of the various ways in which communities can work together to advance their goals.
â€œWith the economy reducing revenues, the local government fund being cut by the state and the elimination of the estate tax, many of these communities are feeling the pinch financially and are looking for opportunities to find efficiencies,â€ Jerse said. â€œYou really have three choices: raise taxes, cut services or find efficiencies, so that certainly gives impetus to this movement.â€
Hoornbeek and other representatives from center are willing to help area officials that are exploring these types of efforts. â€œWe provide whatever assistance and advice we can so that communities can be more effective and learn from past experiences,â€ Hoornbeek said. â€œIt is our hope that by sharing examples of past efforts and the lessons learned, we can help local officials as they seek to collaborate across local government boundaries.â€â€¨
Support for development of the case studies has been provided by the Fund for Our Economic Future. For more information about Kent Stateâ€™s Center for Public Administration and Public Policy or to view the collaboration case studies, visit www.kent.edu/cpapp.