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Cities don’t have to go it alone

​Not every city wants to or is capable of directly providing every program or service needed to meet residents’ needs and state/federal mandates. So what are the options?

In South Carolina, local governments have three options: provide the service themselves, contract with a private sector provider or contact with another unit of local government.
 
"While contracting with the private sector to provide services is common for services such as solid waste collection, building and grounds maintenance, and fleet maintenance, contracting with another unit of local government is an underutilized option worthy of greater consideration," commented Eric Budds, Association deputy executive director.
 
The state Constitution allows counties, municipalities and other political jurisdictions to share responsibilities and costs of providing services. An intergovernmental agreement is a tool used to formalize this type of arrangement. For example, intergovernmental agreements are commonly used when providing the service or program is not a full-time responsibility; requires specialized training and/or skills which may be in limited supply; or requires large investments in manpower, facilities or equipment.
 
Examples of common programs or services contracted though intergovernmental agreements include building and zoning services, election administration, law enforcement, victim assistance services, road and sidewalk maintenance, and municipal court functions.
 
Westminster, a city with a population of 2,418 and 40 employees, relies heavily on intergovernmental agreements. Currently, Westminster contracts with Oconee County for victim assistance services, municipal election administration, building permitting and inspection, and animal control. In addition, Oconee County allows the magistrate court to handle municipal cases.

According to City Administrator Jeff Lord, "This arrangement allows city residents to receive quality services in a cost effective manner that avoids unnecessary duplication and allows the city to focus its limited resources on core services."
 
At this year’s Annual Meeting, participants will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of local officials sharing how their municipalities use intergovernmental service agreements to effectively and efficiently provide programs and services.