February 17, 2011
By: Rute Pinho, Associate Analyst
You asked for a description of the laws authorizing towns to collaborate on different activities.
Many statutes allow towns to collaborate on different activities. Some give them broad authority to do so on any activity they can perform separately. Other statutes specify the activity and how towns may collaborate to undertake it.
BROAD AUTHORITY FOR INTERLOCAL COLLABORATION
The law authorizes towns to act collaboratively in several ways. CGS § 7-148cc gives towns blanket authority to perform jointly any function that any statute, special act, charter, or home-rule ordinance allows them to perform individually. It allows them to do so by adopting an agreement the same way they adopt ordinances or budgets. Participating municipalities must renew the agreement every five years.
The law also allows towns and service districts to perform a wide range of municipal services jointly through interlocal agreements (CGS § 7-339a – 339l). It restricts the agreements to a specific, but long, list of municipal functions and services and specifies the process for entering into these agreements.
The law also authorizes state grants for towns that regionally deliver services. Under the Regional Performance Incentive Grant Program, the Office of Policy and Management awards grants to regional entities to provide a local service on a regional basis (CGS § 4-124s). They have included (1) information technology, (2) administrative services, (3) public safety, (4) human services, and (5) public works-related services.
Towns may collaborate to finance projects and activities. CGS § 7-136n allows them to jointly issue bonds to fund any type of project or activity. It specifies the conditions and procedures for issuing these bonds.
CGS § 7-148bb allows two or more towns to share real and personal property tax revenue. Those that choose to do so must adopt an agreement endorsed by each participating town's legislative body. Among other things, the agreement must identify the source of the shared revenue and describe how the towns will collect and share it.
AUTHORIZATION FOR SPECIFIED ACTIVITIES
Several statutes allow towns to jointly perform specific services or activities by creating an interlocal body or by some other method. Towns can establish a wide variety of regional entities with responsibilities for specific municipal functions, such as health, education, transportation, waste management, and economic development, among other things. OLR reports 2008-R-0533 and 2010-R-0072 describe these entities and their responsibilities and powers.
The statutes also allow towns to collaborate on specific services without creating an entity to do so. For example, they can establish a regional property revaluation program (CGS § 12-62q); purchase employee health insurance (CGS § 7-464b); or establish cooperative arrangements to provide school accommodation services, programs, or activities (CGS § 10-158). (OLR report 2006-R-0616 describes the process school boards must follow in entering into these cooperative arrangements.)
Towns can also collaborate for economic development purposes. OLR report 2009-R-0233 describes some of the ways in which they can do so. In addition, the law allows towns that belong to the same federal economic development district to enter into mutual agreements to promote regional economic development and share the real and personal property tax revenue the development generates (CGS § 7-148kk). Another statute allows towns, through their regional planning and economic development organizations, to organize regional economic development districts, prepare economic development plans, and apply for state and federal economic development funds to implement them (CGS § 32-741).