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This is the first report by LGI in an on-going research initiative to develop recommendations for aligning local government services within a region, reducing the cost of those services while preserving quality, and identifying alternatives for funding those services.  The ability of local governments to cooperate regionally and the efficiency of local service delivery are key components affecting the economic competitiveness of Wisconsin.

LGI contracted with Baker Tilly to conduct this study, which is an evaluation of the structure of and relationship between local government in Wisconsin and the success factors for greater alignment between jurisdictions in a region.

Key findings include:

Wisconsin has a history of successful intergovernmental cooperation for service delivery where necessity, convenience or regulation dictate. However there are further significant opportunities to achieve efficiencies;

Reducing the units of government may not be as effective or practical for reducing the cost of government as cooperation to consolidate delivery of services and pool capital investments across a multi-jurisdictional service area;

Successfully changing the way in which services are delivered within an area requires an approach that is unique to the local governments involved. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work given the wide range of local situations that exist across the state;

There are six factors that clearly contribute to the success of efforts to transform the delivery of public services within an area, notably:

  • Trust between leaders
  • Shared perception of need
  • Clear fiscal benefit
  • Improved service quality
  • Collaborative leadership
  • Community support

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