New Laws on Local Government Consolidation

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a package of bills that remove longstanding obstacles for local governments who may wish to share or consolidate services.

The new public acts give municipal leaders greater flexibility to work together.

They also bring much needed clarity to existing state law.

The changes were long sought by local officials and were called for by the governor in his Special Message to the Legislature on Community Development and Local Government Reform.

The governor signed the following six bills:

House Bill 4309, sponsored by state Rep. Eileen Kowall, H.B. 4311, sponsored by state Rep. Paul Opsommer, and H.B. 4312, sponsored by state Rep. Thomas Hooker, amend various acts relating to locally consolidated services.

These bills specifically lift the requirement of maintaining prior labor contracts, staff seniority levels and benefit packages.

Senate Bills 8 and 9, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Jansen, create the Municipal Partnerships Act that authorizes municipalities and public entities to enter into contracts to provide common services.

The Municipal Partnership Act also defines what a shared service contract can or cannot contain, excludes shared service contracts from being subject to a local referendum under a charter or ordinance and sets guidelines for funding joint ventures.

S.B. 493, sponsored by state Sen. Arlan Meekhof, amends the Public Employment Relations Act to prohibit bargaining of agreements that limit a public employer’s ability to enter into an intergovernmental agreement.

The bill does not eliminate the ability to collectively bargain on the effect of an intergovernmental agreement that results in consolidated services.