Category Archives: Local Government

Local Government Employee Health Insurance Programs, 2016: Summary Report of Survey Results

Source: International City/County Management Association (ICMA), May 2017

From the summary:
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA), in collaboration with Cigna, an ICMA Strategic Partner, launched a national survey in the summer of 2016 to learn about the current state of local government employee health insurance programs. ICMA and Cigna conducted this research in follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 2011. The 2016 survey was sent via postal mail to a sample of 3,110 local governments. An online submission option was also made available. The survey was addressed to the Human Resources Director of each selected local government. The response rate was 23.0%, with 714 local governments responding. With this response, the margin of error is +/- 3.5% at the 95% confidence level.

Fiscal Contracts and Local Public Services: Bridging Tax Justice and Inclusive Cities for the New Urban Agenda

Source: Jerik Cruz, Public Services International (Local and Regional Government Sector), March 2017

From the summary:
PSI has just published a research briefing note that reviews options for local and regional governments (LRGs) to sustainably and progressively fund quality public services for local communities and tackle the challenges posed by rapid urbanization and increasing demands placed upon LRGs in a context of shrinking resources, corporate tax avoidance and rising city and territory-based tax competition. The brief summarizes the related discussion paper, which is open for comments and contributions till the end of May 2017.

Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask

Source: Risë Haneberg, Dr. Tony Fabelo, Dr. Fred Osher, and Michael Thompson, Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails, sponsored by the National Association of Counties, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, January 2017

From the summary:
Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask serves as a blueprint for counties to assess their existing efforts to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in jail by considering specific questions and progress-tracking measures. The report also informs the initiative’s approach to technical assistance.

Here are the six questions county leaders need to ask:

Is your leadership committed?
Do you have timely screening and assessment?
Do you have baseline data?
Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
Do you track progress?

Preemption conflicts between state and local governments

Source: Ballotpedia, Last updated on January 2, 2017

Out of 15 resolved preemption cases tracked by Ballotpedia, states were able to preempt local ordinances or initiatives in 14 cases.

A tug-of-war between cities and state governments has developed behind the scenes of the 21st century’s biggest policy debates. Interest groups advancing policy reforms ranging from bans on fracking to higher minimum wages have led local and state officials to tussle over appropriate responses. Mayors, city councils, and community activists are passing ordinances and initiatives on wages, gun control, and LGBT issues in order to fill gaps perceived in existing law. Governors and state legislators have pushed back against these local responses, citing their interests in creating uniform policies across all local governments in their states.

This struggle continues the decades-long evolution of preemption, a legal concept that allows a state law to supersede a conflicting local law due to the state’s power to create cities as granted by state constitutions….

LGR: Local Government Review

Source: Public Management (PM), Special Section, December 2016
(subscription required)

In the tradition of The Municipal Year Book, LGR: Local Government Review—a special section of Public Management (PM)—will present key research findings and expert insights about local government issues and trends. This is the first in what we anticipate being a series of LGR special sections.

Sustainability and Local Governments: Planning Helps Balance Environmental, Economic, and Social Equity Priorities
BY GEORGE C. HOMSY, MILDRED E. WARNER, AND LU LIAO
ICMA’s sustainability survey indicates that many local governments now recognize the important role that environmental protection plays in establishing a foundation for both short- and long-term economic development. Funding and economic development drive sustainability, and lack of funding is the number one barrier to sustainability. The survey also shows that attention to sustainability’s third dimension, social equity, lags behind. Higher inclusion of social equity concerns in disaster planning may provide a template for integrating social equity issues more effectively into sustainability plans. The survey also found that local governments seem to learn best from each other.

Tackling the Housing Affordability Crisis: The Critical Role of Local Government Leadership
BY JELANI NEWTON
As income growth lags behind growth in housing costs, housing affordability is a growing concern in post-recession America. Local governments play a critical role in assessing the specific housing needs of the communities they serve, then developing and implementing customized strategies to effectively meet those needs. Three case studies highlight the unique challenges and targeted strategies of three cities—Miami, Florida; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; and San Antonio, Texas.

Supreme Court Review for Local Governments: Quick roundup of last term’s cases affecting cities and counties
BY LISA SORONEN

Why Local Governments Are Talking about Millennials: Shifting demographics make succession planning a high priority
BY ELIZABETH KELLAR
Demographic shifts explain why organizations are paying so much attention to Millennials. In just four years, people born in 1978 or later will make up 56 percent of the workforce. The percentage of baby boomers—27 percent of the workforce in 2016—will decline to 17 percent in 2020, and Gen X will hold steady at 27 percent of the workforce. How does today’s local government workforce stack up with these broader demographic shifts?

County Benchmarking Engine

Source: OnlyBoth, 2016

Benchmark a U.S. county or county-equivalent against all 3,143 counties described by 104 attributes.

There are 170,250 insights, or about 54 per county.

County data relates to geography, population, education, housing, income, employment, healthcare, resources, religion, land, and arrests.

Data sources are USDA ERC, CDC, HUD, CMS, DHSS, DOJ FBI, and USGS (all federal) plus the Association of Religion Data Archives (thearda.com).
Related:
Benchmark a hospital
Benchmark a nursing home
Benchmark a [private] college’s finances

Approaches to Municipal Takeover: Home Rule Erosion and State Intervention in Michigan and New Jersey

Source: Ashley E. Nickels, State and Local Government Review, Online First, Published online before print September 21, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Municipal takeovers proceed by a state declaring that a municipality is in fiscal crisis and placing it in receivership, handing over most local processes to a state-appointed manager. This policy of aggressive state intervention calls into question two principles of local autonomy enshrined in home rule: that allowing local matters to be handled by local authority removes the need for state special legislation and that giving local governments functional autonomy allows them to solve problems without state intervention. This article presents case studies of New Jersey and Michigan to examine differences in home rule protection as well as approaches to municipal takeover.

The impact of transaction costs on the use of mixed service delivery by local governments

Source: Trevor L Brown, Matthew Potoski, David M Van Slyke, Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, vol. 1 no. 4, December 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
When governments deliver services through mixed delivery arrangements, the sponsoring government and an implementing partner split or share service production, delivery, or management responsibilities. By combining aspects of contract and direct service delivery, mixed service delivery may combine the benefits of contracting with those of direct service delivery. Analyses of 87,009 services delivered by 2174 local governments in the USA shows that over 20% of local government services are delivered through approaches that mix elements of direct and contract production. Local governments choose mixed approaches in response to the transaction cost and market factors that affect their choice of direct and contract approaches. Mixed service delivery may provide the opportunity to harness the upsides of both contract and direct delivery approaches. If conditions are favorable, mixed service delivery allows governments to simultaneously evaluate alternative suppliers while maintaining a degree of their own internal production capacity.

The Illusion of Local Control: The Paradox of Local Government Home Rule

Source: Bruce J. Perlman, State and Local Government Review, Published online before print September 14, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Unquestionably, local government is the area in which most U.S. citizens actually come face-to-face with government workers: municipal police officers or grade school teachers. Local governments provide most people with their drinking water, their trash pickup, their fire safety, their building permits and business licenses, their basketball and softball leagues, and even the ability to get their pets neutered, tagged, and adopted, among many other things. In designing and delivering these services, there is a ground assumption that the choices made for the amount, level, or emphasis of services are the expression of local preferences, community mores, and homegrown values.

This assumption has considerable truth. While federal programs may incentivize, constrain, regulate, or size local initiatives, most of the choices on what to do, and how to do it are made by local representatives. Nevertheless, this truism is opposed by a counterfact that underlies most of U.S. government: local authority below the level of state power is not discussed in our founding documents, mentioned in our constitution, included in our history, or given solid legal standing. In some respects, local control is a convenient “legal fiction” that has been enshrined in our history and incorporated in our system of government operations through a device known as home rule.