Intergovernmental Cooperation


Intergovernmental cooperation between and among cities, counties, towns and villages often produces less expensive and more efficient local government services. Mergers of similar service activities can provide substantial cost savings when administrative and equipment duplication is reduced. Also there are significant savings to be had when smaller governmental entities combine their purchasing, planning, and contracted service delivery processes.

Several recent statewide commissions (e.g. S.A.V.E. Commission and Kettl Commission) have advocated more, voluntary compacts of agreements by local units of governments to reduce property tax burdens on their residents. Smart Growth legislation promises to reward governmental bodies that have created joint plans for economic growth, long term land use, transportation, etc. Beginning in January 2003, State Statute 66.0316 requires that all local governments within Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA’s) must sign at least two compacts with neighboring municipalities or counties for provision of joint services. Additionally, the Budget Repair Bill of 2002 has earmarked $45 million in 2004 Local Shared Revenues to reimburse local governments which demonstrate cost savings in 2003 from consolidating such services.

These web pages will focus on the major state laws and available resources that enable mutual agreements among the various levels of local government. They will include instances of cooperation, including land use planning agreements, mergers of local service delivery, boundary and annexation compacts, and examples of the sharing of equipment, personnel, and utilities.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Resources

Extension and Counties

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension represents a federal-state-county partnership involving land grant universities (such as the University of Wisconsin) that brings information and education directly to citizens on topics affecting their lives and livelihood. County Extension offices cooperate with the Local Government Center in making our resources available to you, and also providing a connection to the many other programming areas within Extension. We rely on the support and guidance of the Wisconsin Counties Association in developing many of these programs. In addition to distance education programs, we offer statewide workshops in even-numbered years, after the spring election, to orient and update county officials.

Local Government Center Publications

Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet #14 – Wisconsin Statutory Authority for Boundary & Related Agreements


Wisconsin Counties magazine, Opportunities for Intergovernmental Cooperation, August 2012. – (PDF file, 210 kb, 4 pages)


Intergovernmental Cooperation: A Strategy for Limited Resources – (PowerPoint file, 484 kb, 36 slides)


Merger of City/Village Services: Best Practices – (PDF file, 360 kb, 68 pages)

Related Wisconsin Links

Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, Best Practices Review, “Local Cooperation to Maintain Roads and Streets” May 1999. – (PDF file, 115 kb, 49 pages)

A Roadmap for Government Transformation – (PDF file, 3028 kb, 83 pages)


Related News from Around Wisconsin

Walworth County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC)

References for Intergovernmental Cooperation

Bunnell, Gene. 1997. “Ways Counties Can Improve Inter-Governmental Cooperation in Land Use Planning and Growth Management.” Wisconsin Counties. March: 37-40.

Deller, Steven C., David G. Hinds, and Donald L. Hinman. June 2001. “Local Public Services in Wisconsin: Alternatives for Municipalities with a Focus on Privatization.” Staff Paper No. 441, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Elsass, Dan. May 1999. “Differences Between City and Village Structures.” Fact Sheet prepared for Local Government Center programs.

Elsass, Dan. April 2000. “Local Government Structures, Forms and Powers Under State Law.” Background materials prepared for the Government Sub-Committee of the Town of Windsor/Village of DeForest Consolidation Committee.

Faust, Wayne and Chris Dunning. No Date. “Sharing Government Services: A Practical Guide.” Extension Publication G3677, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on State – Local Partnerships for the 21st Century (The Kettl Commission). January 2001. Final Report.

Hall, George. March 2000. “Cooperative Plan and Agreement Activity.” Handout distributed at the WAPA Smart Growth Conference. June 21.

Hall, George. March 2000. “The Intergovernmental Cooperation Element.” Background materials distributed at the WAPA Smart Growth Workshop. June 21.

Hinds, David. Updated 2001. “Alternatives for the Delivery of Government Services: Including Intergovernmental Cooperation and Privatization.” UW-Extension Local Government Center Paper.

Hinds, David. 1995. “Wisconsin Town Case Studies.” Appendix to Program Notes for Spring Town Officials Workshop.

Paddock, Susan. “The Changing World of Wisconsin Local Government.” Article (pp. 100-172) in the State of Wisconsin Blue Book, 1997-1998.

Riffle, Stanley. 2000. “Top Ten Strategies for Negotiating Successful Border Agreements.” Background materials prepared for the Wisconsin City Managers Seminar. March 9, Oshkosh.

Schneider, James. 2000. “Wisconsin Statutory Authority for Boundary and Related Agreements.” UW-Extension Local Government Center Fact Sheet # 14 (February).

Stadelman, Rick. “Functional Consolidation: The Key to Improving Wisconsin Local Government Services in the 21st Century.”

UW-Extension. 1999. “Managing Growth and Change in Wisconsin Communities.” Both videotape and video segment summaries and discussion questions. In particular, sections on “development at the urban fringe, highway issues,” and “intergovernmental cooperation.”

Wilson, Thomas and Lawrence Bechler. 1998. “Village of Waunakee/ Town of Westport Joint Planning – A Case Study.” An Outline prepared and distributed in support of the November 12, 1998 Local Land Use Planning and Zoning ETN (Joint Community Planning Update).

Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. 1999. “A Best Practices Review: Local Cooperation to Maintain Roads and Streets.” May.

Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. 1996. “A Best Practices Review: Privatization of Local Government Services.” December.


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