Public Policy Forum Blog

Equipment Sharing

Service sharing among local governments has been a prominent item on the Forum’s research agenda since the summer of 2011, when we helped form a “Shared Services and Cooperation Work Group” for Milwaukee County’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC).   For the past few years, this work group has explored a variety of service sharing opportunities including election equipment procurement, emergency dispatch, and most recently, equipment utilization. 

A short while ago, the Forum was tasked to research models from across the country that involve the sharing of equipment between neighboring jurisdictions.  The idea here is to reduce the number of duplicate pieces of heavy equipment owned by municipal governments through sharing equipment on an as needed basis.  This becomes even more logical when one looks at the minimal amount of time capital equipment is used. 

For instance, the State of Ohio’s auditor conducted a study of seasonal and non-seasonal equipment usage in Lake County, Ohio.  We provide an analysis and visualize the results here.  In a nutshell, the results show that the majority of seasonal and non-seasonal equipment is used less than 500 hours per year or around 25% of the total hours available for use.  

This analysis led to the creation of a statewide web portal called Share Ohio where municipalities can go to lend and borrow equipment. At no cost to local governments, the website enables governments to key their equipment into a database.  Registered governments may access the database to see if a piece of equipment is temporarily available to complete a project. This can be a much more viable option for local governments than purchasing a piece of equipment that sits dormant for three quarters of the year. 

We hope to explore the possibility of replicating this initiative in Milwaukee County and will discuss the idea with the ICC work group in early July.  While this may not result in huge fiscal savings, we feel that small efforts like this will go a long way toward promoting service sharing and cooperation among local governments.

Mike Gavin