Intergovernmental Cooperation Improving efficiencies for our nearly 7,000 units of local government
While governed under state statute, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (5 ILCS 220/), Article VII of the 1970 Illinois Constitution authorizes, and even encourages, the use of intergovernmental cooperation by all units of government. The constitution declares that “the state shall encourage intergovernmental cooperation and use its technical and financial resources to assist intergovernmental activities.” As formal as that sounds, these agreements can also be informal and, in some cases, temporary. A simple handshake between two units of government can lead to big savings for the taxpayer.
Local governments can take advantage of intergovernmental cooperation to tackle issues like the need for expensive technology and equipment and improve on the delivery of services that alone would be difficult to provide. For example, expensive pieces of road maintenance equipment that see limited use throughout the year can be shared between road districts – particularly those that have relatively few miles of road to maintain and/or limited budgets.
There are other examples of counties owning a specialized piece of equipment they share with township road districts. County highway departments can also arrange volume equipment purchases that benefit not only the road districts, but the county as well.
Intergovernmental cooperation is not limited to equipment sharing. Agreements can be applied to an array of other cooperative efforts, such as volume materials purchasing, professional services, shared emergency medical services, joint youth or senior programs, combined planning efforts, etc. There’s almost no limit to what two or more units of government can share if they can forge a mutually acceptable joint governmental agreement.
Municipalities can get in on the act, too. For example, a county can contract with a municipality to operate the county’s zoning program. That way, one set of personnel
and one office with computer equipment can operate two separate zoning ordinances.
Check with units of local government in your own county to learn whether they’re taking advantage of this approach. It could be well worth your effort in finding savings for taxpayers.
Our own Illinois Farm Bureau policy supports this concept. Policy #106 is all about intergovernmental cooperation and encourages us to work with all interested groups and organizations to identify methods which can be implemented locally to encourage local government cooperation.