Study of Maple Plain, Independence shared services likely to continue

by Amanda Schwarze

The Pioneer

The cities of Maple Plain and Independence have long shared more than just a border, and soon they might start working cooperatively in more areas.

The Shared Services Committee, made up of Maple Plain City Councilors Mike DeLuca and Justin McCoy and Independence Mayor Marvin Johnson and City Councilor Norm Wenck, has been meeting for months to discuss ways the two cities might collaborate. McCoy said that the group looked extensively at all city departments for possible shared services.

Maple Plain and Independence already share police and fire departments. According to a letter sent to the two city councils by the Shared Services Committee, there is also informal sharing between the cities, particularly with the public works departments.

The letter also includes several recommendations for how the two cities can continue to work toward more collaboration. The committee recommended that Maple Plain City Administrator Tessia Melvin and Independence City Administrator Toni Hirsch meet to look into what opportunities for sharing might exist in the administrative areas, specifically with consulting and purchased services.

Some investigation into consulting services has already occurred. When Maple Plain City Planner Tom Goodrum recently resigned because he took a job with a new firm that does not handle municipal planning, Maple Plain councilors agreed to share services in the interim and use Independence City Planner Mark Kaltsas.

The committee also recommended that Melvin and Hirsch investigate more ways the public works departments might be able to work together. The administrators were tasked with looking into call pay, overtime, back-up and use of staff of the two departments. They were also asked to look into whether common management might be feasible.

Another recommendation was to have city officials work together to coordinate and plan city celebrations and other activities. Committee members noted that they still wanted each city to have its own celebration, such as Heritage Days and Maple Plain Days, but that the two cities could work together to support the events. The committee also noted that the two cities might want to jointly purchase equipment like a stage that the two currently rent for some activities.

The final recommendation from the committee was that the Maple Plain and Independence city councils hold joint meetings twice a year. The purpose of the joint meetings would be to discuss common issues and concerns. Additionally, the committee recommended that each city name a liaison to the other council to help foster communication between the cities.

The Shared Services Committee asked that Melvin and Hirsch present results of their investigations by May 1. After that presentation, committee members are expected to prepare more information to share with the two city councils.

The Maple Plain City Council was in favor of the recommendations listed in the committee’s report. At its Jan. 13 meeting, the council directed Melvin to begin working with Hirsch if the Independence City Council also approved the committee’s recommendations. The Independence council on Jan. 14 approved the recommendations on a 4-0 vote.

Contact Amanda Schwarze at [email protected]