Private Citizens

Citizens are regularly asked to fund local government services. How those services are provided is the responsibility of their local elected officials. While citizens are not directly responsible for decisions to regionalize services, citizens can influence policymakers and provide political support to those officials responsible for making regionalization decisions. The public process provides citizens with a forum to suggest ideas or opportunities to improve or expand services and/or reduce costs. Participants can show their support for regionalization during these forums.

Citizen support is elemental to policymakers. Without this support, policymakers can find themselves unable to get approval for implementing a specific regionalization initiative. Citizens can approach their regional planning agency to find out what types or activities are being considered for regionalization and how they can influence the process.

Know the Politics

Be ready to address “turf” issues by being aware of the history and politics of the communities involved in a shared service project. Intergovernmental cooperation by its very nature involves municipalities having to give up some control and responsibility. Consider which communities may “win or lose” if a particular regionalization effort is implemented. Learn the history of particular communities and research any past regionalization efforts. Speak to local official and department staff about their experiences in shared services projects. Keep up with local politics and municipal events. The effects of these dynamics on interlocal cooperation in Massachusetts cannot be overstated. More importantly, address these issues openly and early so they do not undermine the program as it is being planned and implemented.

Use Your Regional Planning Agency Resources

The Commonwealth’s 13 thirteen regional planning agencies are an invaluable resource of information, often acting as providers of technical assistance and host agencies for member municipalities. As the creators of the website, the RPA staff is well-suited with both the substantive knowledge regarding individual municipal services as well as information related to regional collaboration and shared service projects. Regional planning agency staff includes experts in a broad range of municipal services, including transportation, public health, energy, procurement, public safety, land use, housing, environmental affairs, public works and emergency preparedness.

Among other services, regional planning agencies provide member communities with technical assistance for shared service projects in the following areas: identification of grant opportunities and grant writing, project identification and management, drafting legal documents, and creating governance models and assessment comparisons. Moreover, some RPAs act as host agencies for member municipalities and employ staff with the qualifications to perform certain municipal services for a fee. Local leaders interested in learning more about sharing services should contact their relevant regional planning agency for more information.