From the abstract:
Pensions play a critical role in the ability of local governments to attract and retain the workforce needed to meet citizen demands. The costs associated with this employee benefit, however, can be substantial. A recent National League of Cities (NLC) survey revealed that over the past year the cost of pensions increased in more than 70 percent of cities. One in three cities identified these expenses as the factor most negatively affecting their budgets.
From the summary:
Recruiting and retaining qualified personnel was the top priority for 91 percent of respondents to the 2017 workforce trends survey released today by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE). Respondents also rated staff and leadership development (77 and 76 percent) and succession planning (74 percent) as important workforce issues.
– Key findings from the annual survey, conducted by SLGE, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and National Association of State Personnel Executives were:
– 74 percent reported hiring staff
– 47 percent hired contract or temporary employees
– 38 percent shifted more health care costs to employees
– 24 percent established wellness programs.
– Every year since 2010, a majority of respondents to the annual survey has reported making changes to health insurance benefits. On the other hand, the pace of changes to retirement plans has slowed in recent years. In 2012, 24 percent reported increasing current employee contributions to retirement plans compared with 9 percent increasing current employee contributions in 2016. Positions hardest to fill in 2016 were:
– Police officers (21 percent)
– Information technology (17 percent)
– Engineers (14 percent) and
– Health care (13 percent)
– Skills in greatest demand were in interpersonal relations (65 percent), written communications (53 percent), and technology (51 percent).
From the abstract:
Fragmented authority and service responsibilities within governments can impact the design and implementation of policy. Administrative structures can play an important role in mitigating the challenges associated with coordinating activities across independent units within city government. In this study, we use the broad policy arena of sustainability as a testbed to explore “Functional Collective Action” problems and the consequences of cities’ administrative design on the portfolio of policy actions related to energy and climate protection. Empirical analyses of survey data from a national sample of local governments indicate that political institutions, government capacity, and community support influence, to varying degrees, administrative structures related to sustainability initiatives. Our analyses also suggest that these are not inconsequential decisions, since they influence the extent to which cities achieve greater policy integration.
From the abstract:
What role do local governments play in promoting sustainable economic development? This study uses a 2014 national survey to analyze the relationship between local environment and social equity motivations and the kinds of economic development strategies local governments pursue (business incentives or community economic development policies). Municipalities that pay more attention to environmental sustainability and social equity use higher levels of community economic development tools and lower levels of business incentives. These places are also more likely to have written economic development plans and involve more participants in the economic development process. In contrast, communities that use higher levels of business incentives have lower income and are more dependent on manufacturing employment. Other capacity measures do not differentiate types of economic development strategies used. This suggests that sustainable economic development strategies can be pursued by a broad array of communities, especially if the motivations driving their economic development policy include environment and equity goals.
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.
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.
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?
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….
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?