Regional Cooperation: Multi-Municipal Collaborations Programs
Pennsylvania has more than 2,600 county and municipal governments.
Within Erie County there are:
- 38 municipalities, consisting of two cities (Erie and Corry),
- 14 boroughs,
- and 22 townships.
The municipalities are fully autonomous from the County government. Many of the municipalities are quite small in population and some are challenged to provide even the most basic services. In addition, many find it difficult to obtain adequate numbers of competent persons to serve on their legislative bodies, boards, and commissions.
It is essential that the municipal governments cooperate and coordinate with one another for the provision of services in order to achieve maximum efficiencies, economies of scale, high quality services, and modern governmental processes. Active cooperation and coordinated among the governments, through vehicles such as Councils of Governments (COGs) and other intergovernmental organizations, can also go a long way to supporting economic growth and vibrancy in communities.
This form of ‘functional cooperation’ among two or more governments can lead to substantial and meaningful changes in economic competitiveness and quality of life. Therefore it is important that local decision makers be encouraged and supported by the larger community to explore and adopt ways to provide greater functional cooperation through multi-municipal collaboration. This is different from ‘structural consolidation’ such as municipal mergers and consolidations intended to eliminate governmental units.
The following are some of the current and potential areas for additional collaboration:
Application of best practices and development of a coordinated multi-municipal blighted property program for legal processes, identification of blighted properties, acquiring land and structures, demolition, and other activities. (In March of 2012 the Corry Industrial Benefit Association, with funding from the Erie Community Foundation invited the Center for Community Progress to assess and recommend strategies to more effectively address blighted property in Erie County. The Report made a wide range of recommendations for action planning and implementation.
Recycling and Garbage Collection
Coordinated recycling and garbage collection among municipalities through joint contract negotiations, shared clean-up and recycling days, and other programs.
Emergency Management Agencies
Cooperative activates among municipalities for sharing of personnel, equipment and capacity for joint emergency management planning and activities. Considerable activity is currently taking place in this regard across the County, primarily through the Conelway and West Erie County EMAs.
Erie County Broadband, eGovernment and Technology Implementation
Project that has been developed by the Erie Area Council Governments. This program, which is already underway but requires significant additional support, is putting in place joint interactive, state-of-the-art, internet and intranet web networks to house, link, and share substantial information about the participating communities and local governments, and the implementation of individual and common objectives. This program can provide modern document management services, and can be the communications ‘backbone’ for nearly all the multi-municipal collaboration projects.
Joint purchasing for equipment, materials and supplies needed by the municipalities for the purpose of producing lower costs through sharing and economies of scale.
Municipal Officials and Staff Capacity Building
Formalized and locally provided training and education forums for elected and appointed officials in an academy style format could be undertaken.
Planning, Zoning and Code Enforcement
Planning tasks among municipalities, joint municipal permitting portal for public use, and other facilitation and implementation tasks among municipalities.
Cooperative activates among municipalities for sharing of technology, personnel and capacity, including regional policing. One identified opportunity is to bring about modernization of the current county-wide radio based Traffic Signal Emergency Preemption System as recommended by the Erie County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
Formal equipment sharing programs and joint and contracted public works services among municipalities.
Recreation and Parks
Joint investments, marketing and implementation of activities for programmatic coordination among municipal recreation programs and school districts.
Implementation of the recommendations coming out of the current Erie County Stormwater Management Intermunicipal Collaboration Project.