2012 may see an increase in the number of Michigan cities and towns combining services and working more closely together.
Governor Snyder signed a package of bills in December that remove legal barriers for municipalities seeking to consolidate services and eliminate requirements maintaining labor contracts when creating new partnerships.
Samantha Harkins is a legislative associate with the Michigan Municipal League. She expects the new laws will encourage local governments to dust off old studies looking at consolidating services with their neighbors.
"A number of communities have already been considering it. So, will those communities that have been considering it actually now be actually able to go through with it? I think that is a Yes," says Harkins, "Will other communities that hadn’t thought about it before consider it? Possibly.”
Harkins says combining services is increasingly attractive to communities looking for ways to cut costs.