Innovative Ideas: Regional Cooperation

Innovative Ideas: Regional Cooperation

We are pleased to present Innovative Ideas: Regional Cooperation for a More Viable Connecticut. From airbnb to zipcar, the Sharing Economy is rapidly redefining business models across industries. It is an economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. The sharing economy model is most likely to be used when the price of a particular asset is high and the asset is not fully utilized all the time. Translating these concepts to local government can save municipalities and their property taxpayers money. Sharing both the costs and benefits of equipment, programs, and studies with neighboring towns makes each stronger than they are alone.

Some ideas are reprinted from Connecticut Town & City, the bi-monthly magazine of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), others have been obtained from Councils of Government (COGs).

Connecticut Town & City developed these stories from many sources, including visits to Connecticut municipalities; suggestions from municipal officials; newspapers and magazines in Connecticut and other states; publications of the National League of Cities; and publications of other state municipal leagues. We would be happy to hear from readers about any ideas we should publish in the future.

This publication provides just a sampling of the innovative, effective and cost-saving regional partnerships among towns and cities in Connecticut. If you know of other interesting regional partnerships, please forward information on them to our Director of Communications, Kevin Maloney at (203) 498-3025 or kmaloney@ccm-ct.org.

Good Reading!

 

Read the report online here

Download a printable PDF of the report here

Press Release back to top

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Wednesday, December 16, 2015) released a new public policy report that presents key examples of voluntary regional cooperation initiatives across the State and regions; catalogues the existing state statutes that enable regional cooperation among towns and regions; and calls on the State to take specific legislative steps to further foster voluntary regional efforts by towns and cities in order to provide municipal services more efficiently and save residential and business property taxpayers money.

The 27-page report entitled Innovative Ideas: Regional Cooperation For a More Viable Connecticut, presents illustrative regional efforts in such areas as health, energy, economic development, public safety, environment, equipment sharing, police services, revaluation, recreation trails, seniors, social services and youth services.

CCM has long been committed to working with towns and cities regionally to help municipal leaders run their local governments more effectively and efficiently,” said Joe DeLong, CCM Executive Director. “A wide range of regional initiatives take place across the state in 2015 -- and have for past decades -- that save property taxpayers money while providing municipal services more efficiently to enhance community life. CCM has consistently supported voluntary measures for towns -- through state legislation, local ordinances and regional agreements -- to work together regionally to save sparse resources, while providing better quality services.”

“Time-tested and successful regional models for education and general government will continue to provide for cost-efficient return on investments for Connecticut residents and businesses for years to come,” said Ron Thomas, CCM Deputy Director. “And CCM’s advocacy efforts have played – and will continues to play -- a key role in a variety of legislative changes to further open up voluntary new steps for regional and inter-municipal cooperation across Connecticut.”

CCM hosted a workshop at CCM’s 2015 Annual Convention in late October on the ABCs of Regional Collaboration for Towns and School Districts” in collaboration with the Capital Region Education Council. This workshop focused on latest and best practices for replicating existing regional programs, participating in low-risk opportunities that can be quickly implemented, and strategizing for long-term successful collaboration. The workshop also provided an opportunity for towns to assess their “regional collaboration score”, and better understand how to develop a regionalization plan to save money and provide greater services.

To further enable voluntary municipal progress in the regional services arena, CCM has issued this new policy report to also call on the State to take seven key steps to further foster regional cooperation. These include:

• Develop a model regional cooperation codes for municipalities that can pass legal muster. This would encourage towns and cities to engage in regional cooperative efforts and help them avoid legal and other pitfalls when establishing ordinances.

• Increase state financial and other incentives for cost-effective intermunicipal and regional cooperation. While the 2015 General Assembly enacted and allocated $3 million in FY13 and $7 million thereafter to Councils of Government (COG) for regional services grants (COGs would have to submit a spending plan to OPM for the funding in order to receive a grant), this amount is not enough to foster concerted regionalism. Such investments would pay more than four-fold in dividends to municipalities – and the State.

• Empower Councils of Government (COGs) to:

- Deliver services on a regional basis; and
- Make land use decisions on regionally-significant projects.

• Reinvest in planning and technical assistance capacity at OPM to assist COGs and municipalities in collaborative efforts.

• Strengthen collaborations with partners to enhance the ability of the Connecticut Education Network, the "Nutmeg Network", to provide essential high speed Internet access and data transport to, among others, towns and cities at affordable rates.

• Eliminate the red tape and bureaucratic obstacles with state entities that thwart municipalities’ ability to engage in regional cooperation efforts.

• Make greater staffing investments in entities like the Connecticut Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR). ACIR previously had the staffing wherewithal to publish important documents like a compendium of all significant regional cooperation efforts by towns and cities. This publication gave municipalities and the State examples of successful regional efforts that could be emulated across the State.