Intergovernmental Agreement Defined

by Timothy Dodson

An intergovernmental agreement is any agreement that involves or is made between two or more governments to cooperate in some specific way.

Purpose

Most intergovernmental agreements are made to upgrade services, consolidate resources and save money through economies of scale.

Scope

Intergovernmental agreements can be made between or among a broad range of governmental or quasi-governmental entities, such as two or more counties, two or more municipalities, a municipality and a school district, and a city and a university.

Example 1

A typical intergovernmental agreement might involve a contract between two small cities to share police, fire and paramedic services.

Example 2

Two counties agree to share library services, issuing a joint library card and swapping books back and forth. The full services of every library in the system are available to all card-holding residents of both counties.

Benefits

Intergovernmental agreements can improve services, save money through economies of scale, and lead to a culture of inter-community cooperation in many areas.

Drawbacks

Intergovernmental agreements, by consolidating resources, can reduce local control. This loss of some local control, combined with, in some cases, longer emergency response times, can produce a voter backlash, especially if not accompanied by commensurate local tax reductions.

About the Author

Timothy Dodson, a freelance writer and editor, was a journalist for 35 years at five newspapers, including the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where he twice won Florida first prizes for commentary and editorials. He has a master's degree in English language and literature from the State University of New York.

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