As a local government official, you might face a variety of different pressures, from concerns with public records requests to uncertainty related to zoning issues and more. Sometimes, local governments can also face significant uncertainty as a result of intergovernmental agreements.

If you do not draft or review contracts properly, your municipality could face future challenges, from legal trouble with the state to disputes with developers or other local governments.

Customizing intergovernmental agreements

Your local government may sign contracts with other governmental entities to address issues of mutual concern, from the sharing of resources to land use matters and urban sprawl. These intergovernmental agreements allow separate governments to protect their interests and work together to pursue a favorable outcome.

Every situation is unique, so it is to your benefit to approach each agreement from an individualized point of view. Cookie-cutter contracts with seemingly standard boilerplate language may leave you vulnerable to misunderstandings and even litigation.

Reviewing the details of the agreement

Prior to signing an intergovernmental agreement, carefully review the document for confusing or conflicting language and fine print. Clauses or phrases that create uncertainty require careful examination. Often, legalese clouds the matter, so straightforward statements are usually a better choice.

Your local government will also need to evaluate the long-term impact of the contract. For example, will the agreement create zoning issues for developers and businesses down the road and prevent progress? Along with your fellow leaders, look toward the future and reflect on the potential effects before signing the agreement to safeguard the interests of the community.

When in doubt, consulting with a local attorney on intergovernmental contract questions, or on other related legal matters, can help to protect your government from entering into a less than favorable agreement.