Local governments are harnessing the power of partnerships to effectively and efficiently deliver services to their communities and leverage existing human and financial resources. Collaborative efforts help cities address complex community health and safety challenges that are typically beyond the capacity of a single jurisdiction.

Partnerships help distribute the associated risks and costs, reducing the impact on each individual participant. Ultimately partnerships increase results and benefit the community. Through a Kaiser Permanente community benefit grant, the Institute for Local Government (ILG) has updated theStretching Community Dollars Guidebook (www.ca-ilg.org/stretchingcommunitydollars). This online resource provides city officials a framework for developing and implementing partnerships in their communities. The guide provides exercises designed to help local officials establish goals and objectives for a partnership, identify stakeholders to be included, determine communication needs and evaluate the partnership’s success. In addition to updating the resource, ILG seeks to work directly with selected communities statewide to build partnerships addressing health and safety.

Understanding the context, strengths and constraints of any local government partnership is critical to its success. The 2015 Stretching Community Dollars Guidebook provides information on how local agencies operate and how current circumstances affect their efforts to work together. It takes into consideration the conditions local officials presently face: the recovering economy, sometimes severe cuts to city staffing and services and the challenges and opportunities surrounding substantial changes in their operating environments, including the Local Control Funding Formula, the Public Safety Realignment Act and the dissolution of redevelopment agencies.

The many stages of collaboration range from information exchanges, relationship-building and joint efforts to rules and systems change. The case studies included in the guidebook demonstrate how California’s diverse communities are using a variety of collaborative processes to address the complex challenges of healthy eating and active living, safety and violence prevention. The examples underscore the fact that the most critical elements of any partnership are strong leadership and clear communication among key stakeholders. Formal and informal meetings and regular communication among elected officials and staff can further the development of shared goals, resolve challenges and avoid misunderstandings.

Finding more efficient and effective ways to stretch community resources to foster vibrant and healthy environments for all residents is a fundamental tenet of local government. The guidebook supports city officials’ efforts to explore ways to create or strengthen existing partnerships with other local governments to leverage resources and work collaboratively to meet the needs of their city, their region and California as a whole.

Cities Counties Schools Partnership Update

The original Stretching Community Dollars Guidebook was developed by the Cities Counties Schools (CCS) Partnership, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the conditions of children, families and communities at the local level by promoting and encouraging coordination, integration and increased efficiency of local services and joint facilities use among cities, counties and schools throughout California. As of 2015, the CCS Partnership is a program of the Institute for Local Government. For more information, visit www.ca-ilg.org.

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© 2015 League of California Cities®. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the September 2015 issue of Western City® magazine, the monthly publication of the League of California Cities®. For related information, visit www.westerncity.com.