Miami researchers recommend three-pronged approach to local government collaborationSep 17, 2010
Researchers at Miami University's Center for Public Management
and Regional Affairs (CPMRA) played an instrumental role in The Ohio
Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration's report, which
was presented to Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio General Assembly
Thursday, Sept. 16.
The commission was formed to study ways to restructure, reform and streamline local governments, and it asked CPMRA to research hundreds of Ohio townships and make recommendations based on the findings. The goal is to investigate ways to resolve the duplication of an array of local government services, including collaborating in the provision of public safety services, creating joint fire districts and weeding out inefficient governments in struggling small towns by collaborating on service delivery. The reforms could also lead to revamping school districts by combining small districts and breaking down large districts.
“The research was based on data from 650 elected township officials from 374 different township governments,” said Philip Russo, a professor of political science and director of CPMRA. “We concluded that collaboration currently is an accepted and useful arrangement among many Ohio townships, that collaboration can range from simple one-to-one contracts to elaborate agreements and that local government collaboration is progressive and can lead to additional collaboration.”
To promote future collaboration, Miami researchers recommended three initiatives to the commission. Among the suggestions made to the commission: continue to develop mechanisms that provide financial incentives to local governments to collaborate, such as “front-end” incentives; develop educational programs for local officials and citizens that provide relevant and useable knowledge for those contemplating collaboration; and develop more statutory incentives to promote public/private partnerships, such as bringing non-governmental entities into cooperative ventures that create entrepreneurial market strategies.
“At the end of the day, local governments feel less compelled to ‘compete inter-jurisdictionally’ and pursue cooperation across local boundaries under these conditions,” added Russo.
This Miami University study was one of four research projects supported by a competitive grant from the Ohio commission.