Minnesota Taking Steps to Restructure Local Government Service Delivery

During the current budget crisis and recession local governments in Minnesota are looking to the state legislature for more flexibility on how they delivery their governmental services. A project to reform local government structure was sparked by municipal groups, including the League of Minnesota Cities, who have realized that in a down economy, and without consistent state aid, municipal officials need more flexibility in how they provide governmental services.  Six forums with municipal leaders were held around the state and from the information collected municipal groups compiled a report describing the current problem and providing recommendations for state legislators.

The report, Focus on Outcomes: Redesigning Minnesota’s Local Government Services, first acknowledges that local governments are in an unprecedented situation due to a large ageing population, a changing economy, and as a result an increase in service demands.  While the report outlines the need for restructuring it also identifies the barriers of restructuring.  The barriers include focusing service delivery on process instead of outcomes, a failing state and local relationship, limiting fiscal and political liability, and the lack of a state-wide plan.

The report, of course, has recommendations for the legislature including redesigning health and human services, children and youth education, transportation, public safety, administration, and government boundaries and structures.  Some examples of recommendations include: focusing health services on outcomes, increasing flexible learning options for students, sharing transportation equipment between municipalities, creating public safety districts and consolidation of services, sharing information technology between municipalities, and exploring opportunities to consolidate municipalities and school districts.

The report is available here.