9.1  Intergovernmental Cooperation Element






The Intergovernmental Cooperation Element is to provide a compilation of objectives, policies, goals, maps and programs for joint planning and decision making with other jurisdictions, including school districts and adjacent local governmental units, for siting and building public facilities and sharing public services.  The element also analyzes the relationship of the local governmental unit to school districts and adjacent local units of government, and to the region, the state and other governmental units.  The element shall incorporate any plans or agreements to which the local governmental unit is a party under s.66.0301, 66.037 or 66.0309.  The element shall identify existing or potential conflicts between the local governmental unit and other governmental units specified and describe processes to resolve such conflicts.



















Cooperation between local governments can take many forms.  Relationships may be informal, based on verbal agreements or other informal arrangements.  Or, cooperation may be formal, based on the Wisconsin Statutes. Most intergovernmental cooperation is done for the purpose of delivering services or exercising joint powers.  Some cooperation is undertaken to receive services or make cooperative purchases.[1]


While recognizing the agreements already in place, entering into other agreements with surrounding and overlapping units of government has the potential to contribute to a more coordinated approach with respect to economic development and land-use.  The Town should examine both positive and negative impacts when considering agreements and evaluate impacts once agreements are executed.  Spillover effects from one municipality to another are not uncommon.  For this reason, cooperation is strongly encouraged in the course of making land use-related decisions.


The following three intergovernmental arrangements are typically practiced or executed by local units of government.





Through its extraterritorial jurisdictional powers, city’s and village’s have statutory authority to develop plans and official maps, approve land divisions and adopt extraterritorial zoning for unincorporated lands within the extraterritorial area of their corporate boundaries.


To adopt extraterritorial zoning, a city or village is required to create a joint extraterritorial zoning committee consisting of three city or village Plan Commission members and three members from each affected town.  This joint committee must approve the plan and regulations before the governing body (city or village) can approve the proposal and implement.2   Extraterritorial zoning can be used in conjunction with a cooperative boundary agreement (see below).  The Town should thoroughly review the process requirements before entering into this process if it is ever undertaken.


Historically, development beyond municipal borders has presented contentious regulatory and political issues.  However, continuing to work with neighboring jurisdictions on land use issues of mutual concern can minimize conflict and result in better use of limited resources and service delivery.





Intergovernmental agreements for the joint planning and administration of services and facilities are effective alternatives to other types of binding agreements.  More informal arrangements based on shared interests can help accomplish tasks while respecting local identities and achieve greater economy and efficiency.  The Fire District serving both the Town of Omro, the Town of Rushford and the City of Omro is an example of service provision occurring through voluntary mutual agreements.




Wisconsin statutes also allow municipalities to prepare cooperative boundary plans or agreements.  In order to do so, each municipality participating in the plan must adopt a resolution authorizing plan preparation. In addition to addressing physical development, environmental and housing issues, and planning and zoning, these agreements may specify changes to boundaries of participating municipalities.  The cooperative agreement must identify the boundaries that will be altered, under what conditions they will be altered and the schedule of boundary changes.  Municipalities are required to approve the boundary agreement by resolution, conduct public hearings and provide an opportunity for the public to present written comment.  An existing cooperative agreement may be amended by agreement of all affected municipalities.3 The Town should review the statutory requirements related to cooperative boundary plans in detail to thoroughly understand its legal authority and the process requirements if ever undertaken.





In its recently released report, the Commission on State-Local Partnerships (Kettl Commission) calls for the creation of “growth-sharing areas: within which local units of government would collaborate to serve the needs of their citizens.  The report recommends that local governments adopt “Area Cooperation Compacts” with at least two other governments in at least two functional areas including: law enforcement, housing, emergency services, fire, solid waste, recycling, public health, animal control, transportation, mass transit, land-use planning, boundary agreements, libraries, parks, recreation, culture, purchasing or e-government.  The Commission also advocates for the reform of state aids to municipalities.4


The content below further outlines the intergovernmental context of local planning.  Relationships can be described as vertical or horizontal.  Vertical relationships are those linking a municipality to governments of broader jurisdiction.  Horizontal relationships describe the Town’s connection to adjacent communities.  Together, these relationships cut across each of the nine functional elements of this Smart Growth comprehensive plan.


Town of Rushford


The Town of Rushford operates through a Chairman-Board of Trustees form of government.  The board of trustees is elected at-large and responsible for setting policies.  The Town Chairman is also elected at-large, presides at town board meetings and votes on all matters before the board.  In general, town chairman are assigned certain administrative responsibilities and do not carry veto power.


The Town also has several boards, commissions and committees that recommend policies and actions to the Town Board.  These bodies are typically comprised of interested citizen volunteers and local government representatives.  Some of the Town boards, commissions and committees include:


·        Planning

·        Fire

·        Board of Appeals


In terms of infrastructure and services, the Town provides snow removal, street maintenance and lighting. The Town also contracts with the Winnebago County Sheriffs Department for police services.


Fire Department District


The Omro area Fire Department covers all of approximately 73.5 square miles within the City of Omro, the Town of Omro and the Town of Rushford.  Through cooperative efforts between the Village and the Town, the current fire station was built in the Deerfield Business Park in 1987. The Village intends to continue to work with the Town of Deerfield to provide quality fire protection services to area residents.


Surrounding Cities, Villages and Towns


Between 1990 and 1999, Winnebago County added 16,443 new people. A growth of 11.72%.  Many of the municipalities experiencing rapid growth lie close to incorporated community borders.  Therefore, it is imperative that the Town remains aware of the impacts of development not only on its self but also its neighbors.  Only with a regional lens can the Town best plan for its future.  Efforts made today to promote planned growth, compact development and cooperation across local governments should serve the Village well in protecting the quality of life for current residents and future generations.


Town’s of Utica, Omro, Nepeuskun, and Poygan


The Town’s of Utica, Omro, Nepeuskun, and Poygan adjoin the Town of Rushford.  Joint meetings of plan commissions have taken from time to time. 


The Town should consider the possibility of conducting joint planning in an effort to reduce duplication, address common issues and provide for residents and businesses in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.  In any case, the Town should work with the its neighbors to ensure consistency in plans to minimize future conflicts and avoid the need for boundary agreements.


Winnebago County


The Town of Rushford is responsible to enact policies and programs and adopt plans that are consistent with County level plans.  In turn, the County has a responsibility to contribute to maintaining a high quality of life across local units of government. Through its various plans, the County has expressed a long-term interest in preserving farmland. It has also expressed similar interest through the adoption of its Land & Water Resource Management Plan. For these reasons it is vitally important to coordinate proposals and action with Winnebago County and all adjacent area municipalities.


Drainage Districts


These districts are organized to drain land for agricultural and other purposes.

Land is drained by ditches that cross individual properties.  Landowners in a district who benefit from drainage conveyance must pay assessments to cover the cost of constructing, maintaining and repairing the system. 2 districts exist in Winnebago County, with only one being currently active.


Watershed Districts


The Town of Rushford is part of the Fox River/Rush Lake Watershed District, which covers 125 square miles in Winnebago County. Further discussion about this watershed district can be found in the Agricultural, Cultural and Natural Resources Element of this Comprehensive Plan.




East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC)


Organization and Purpose: The Commission is organized under Section 66.945 of the Wisconsin Statutes. The Commission is the official comprehensive, areawide planning agency for the ten county East Central Region of the State including the counties of Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Menominee, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago. The Commission provides the basic information and planning services necessary to solve problems which transcend the corporate boundaries and fiscal capabilities of individual governmental jurisdictions. The Commission has a statutory duty to prepare and adopt comprehensive plans for the physical development of the region. Such plans include land use, transportation, open space, economic development and environmental management elements. The Commission also provides technical assistance to participating governments with issues of concern to that jurisdiction.


The full commission meets quarterly to conduct business on the last Friday of January, April, July and October and has an annual meeting on the Wednesday before Memorial Day to receive the Annual Report and the standing committee appointments. Quarterly meetings alternate between the Outagamie and Winnebago County courthouses. Standing committees include Steering, Transportation, Regional Development, Economic Development and Open Space and Environmental Management which meet at least once between each quarterly Commission meeting.


Policy-Making Process: The basic representation on the Commission's policy body consists of three commissioners from each county as follows

·        The Chairman of the county board serves on the Commission because of his or her elective office.

·        A second member is appointed by the county board. This individual must hold executive or legislative elective office within town, village, city or county governmental bodies within the appointing county. This member is automatically the county executive, if the county has one.

·        A third member is appointed by the Governor from a list of six persons nominated by the county board. At least four of these nominees must be private citizens.


Additional representatives are provided to counties with a population of 50,000 or greater; one for each attained increment of 50,000. They are appointed as follows:

·        The first extra representative is the mayor or council president of the largest city in the county.

·         Additional representatives are appointed in a manner similar to the second member appointment procedures noted above.


The basic mission of the ECWRPC is planning.  The Commission works closely with towns, cities, villages, state agencies and others to share technical resources and help achieve coordinated plans and development. At this time, the Commission also oversees the development and amendment of Urban Service Areas (USAs).  It is not clear which entity or entities will become responsible for oversight of USA’s if the Commission is ever entirely dissolved. Initially, the responsibility would be that of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) because of its regulatory responsibility in this area under State statutes.  Not only is the DNR responsible to monitor statutory requirements but also approves sewer extensions and sewage treatment facilities, which are based on USA boundaries. 





By virtue of their roles in monitoring and enforcing statutory regulations, the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Transportation (DOT) are integral partners in Town policies, programs and projects. For example, the DNR regulates the distances between roads crossing state trails. As stated above, the DNR also approves sewer extensions and sewage treatment facilities. The DOT has jurisdiction over access issues related to STH 91 & 21. Another state agency with regulatory responsibility is the Department of Commerce. The Safety and Buildings Division administers and enforces state laws and rules relating to building construction and safety and health.  Plan review and site inspection is part of the division’s role in protecting the health and welfare of people in constructed environments. In addition, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) carries regulatory duties concerning the Farmland Preservation Program and agricultural practices.  The Department of Revenue (DOR) has assessment responsibilities.


Along with regulating local activities, all of these agencies provide information, education and training and maintain funding programs to assist local governments in development efforts and maintaining a basic level of health and safety.

Additionally, the Department of Administration’s Land Information Office (LIO) is charged with identifying ways to enhance and facilitate planning of local governments and improve coordination and cooperation of state agencies in their land use activities.  LIO also provides technical assistance and advice to state agencies and local governments with land information responsibilities, among other things.  LIO will review this comprehensive plan to ensure consistency with the State’s ‘Smart Growth’ legislation.  The Department of Administration also reviews annexation requests, incorporations and cooperative boundary plans.



Goals, Objectives & Policies


The following goals and objectives were prepared based upon discussions at public meetings and review of existing plan documents.  




Continue lines of communication across municipalities to discuss common issues.




·        Continue to invite adjoining Town’s, school district’s, and other stakeholders to participate in facility planning meetings and encourage these entities to inform the Town of their plans.


·        Participate in joint planning efforts with Winnebago County in an effort to reduce duplication, address common issues and provide for residents and businesses in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. 


·        Continue to work with adjoining Town’s to ensure consistency in plans to minimize future conflicts and to avoid the need for boundary agreements.




To coordinate the siting, building, and redevelopment of public facilities and the sharing of public services when possible.


·          Fire

·          EMS

·          Community Center

·          School(s)

·          Library

·          Parks & Recreation

·          Open Space




·        Explore the potential of jointly developing and managing parks and recreational facilities with Winnebago County, school district’s, and community-at-large.


·        Jointly with Winnebago County, adopt a storm water management plan and ordinance that specifies facilities and standards necessary to properly accommodate run-off.






The Town of Rushford has routinely engaged citizens, stakeholders and other units of government, where appropriate, in the current Comprehensive Planning process.  The Town also has made draft plan materials available to the public through the Public Library and Town Hall.  Two newsletters were published over the course of plan development and three Town Hall public meeting sessions were conducted.


As a result of the Town’s commitment to planning, it has a strong base from which to implement strategies that come out of the planning process.  The Town is encouraged to build on the foundations in place and elevate its leadership role in collaborative efforts to revitalize its cross roads communities, increase the supply of housing options, provide for transportation enhancements and address storm water and other environmental issues related to service provision.





C:\My Documents\Comprehensive Plan\SECTION 9 Intergovernmental Cooperation Element part 1.doc

[1] Alternatives for the Delivery of Government Services Including Intergovernmental Cooperation and Privatization. Local Government Center, University of Wisconsin Extension, Program Notes.

2 County & Local Government Land Use Planning & Regulation, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Local Government Center.

3 1999-2000 WI Statutes and Annotations

4 Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Commission on State-Local Partnerships for the 21st Century, January 2001.