Each county and its municipalities has developed a service delivery strategy including the items listed above.It is necessary for local governments to revise their service delivery strategy and submit it to DCA for verification in order to remain eligible for state administered financial grants or state permits when any one of the following conditions occur:
Without a Service Delivery Strategy verified by DCA, a local government or respective authorities will not be eligible to receive any state permits or financial assistance. In addition, any local projects that are not consistent with the strategy will not receive any state permits or financial assistance. Local governments should review their strategy before seeking state permits or assistance to ensure that the proposed project is consistent with the strategy.
The following are questions that have been raised about the preparation, submittal and verification of local service delivery strategies. These are new questions that are not covered in the other publications on service delivery that are included at this web site. Answers to these questions have been developed cooperatively with the Georgia Municipal Association, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. You may submit a question regarding service delivery to DCA and, once an answer is developed, both questions and answers will be added to this listing.
Q. Will DCA allow service delivery forms to be emailed to the Department?
A. Yes. If emailing, please complete the appropriate SDS forms and send a .pdf to the Department for posting. If unable to send a .pdf, please mail the appropriate forms to the Department. The preferred format for submitting these forms is electronically as a .pdf, however, if you must mail, use the following address:
Georgia Department of Community Affairs
Office of Planning and Quality Growth: SDS
60 Executive Park South, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30329
Q. Are there citizen participation requirements?
A. Citizen participation in the process of developing the service delivery strategy is not specifically required by the law. As envisioned in the legislation, development of a service delivery strategy is a government-to-government process. However, local governments may find citizen input to be useful and politically desirable, especially where major changes in service delivery arrangements are contemplated.
Q. Who will actually chair the meetings? Do we need a facilitator?
A. Local governments must decide for themselves who will chair the meetings. Using a facilitator is not required under the Act, but it is an option, particularly if there is a past history of conflict between local governments in the county. Even if a facilitator is not needed to manage the overall process of developing the service delivery strategy, local governments may want to employ one to deal with a single type of service, or a particularly sensitive aspect of the negotiations.
DCA maintains a list of individuals with facilitation skills, but the local governments could also choose anyone with skill at consensus building and who all parties consider to be fair-minded and neutral.
Q. Our water authority's service area covers the whole county and its cities. Isn't the requirement that extraterritorial water and sewer service be consistent with local government land use plans irrelevant in our case?
A. It is true that the water authority will not have to adopt the service delivery strategy in which the local governments in the county must reach agreement on issues of land use compatibility. However, in order to receive state funds or permits, the water authority's projects will have to be consistent with the adopted service delivery strategy for the county and its municipalities.
Q. How should we involve our independent utility authority in our service delivery strategy?
A. Utility authorities should be encouraged to work with local governments as they develop their service delivery strategies, since they will typically have essential background information necessary to establish rational infrastructure policies and plan future service expansion projects.
Although authorities are not required to adopt the service delivery strategy, the Service Delivery Act bars them from receiving any state funds or permits for projects that are inconsistent with the strategy. Therefore, authorities will find it in their best interests to work with local governments, become familiar with their adopted strategy, and operate their utilities consistent with the adopted service delivery strategy.
Q. Could a water/sewer rate survey be done statewide -- to help us evaluate our own rates as part of the service delivery strategy?
A. It is difficult to undertake a meaningful statewide rate survey since each community typically has a variable rate structure and these structures are different for each community.
Q. When considering fair-share cost allocations to different jurisdictions, should eback out state and federal funds used either to construct or improve facilities or to provide services?
A. This is entirely up to the negotiating parties.
Q. Are all agreements under the service delivery strategy open for re-negotiation every time it is updated as mandated in the Service Delivery Act?
A. Yes, unless some of the service agreements signed in connection with the strategy have contractual provisions to the contrary.
Q. Should all agreements under the service delivery strategy be updated when the local comprehensive plan is updated?
A.Yes. The way the program is administered, local governments should update their SDS before the end of the annual trimester during which they formally adopt the full plan update. These trimesters end February 28, June 30, and October 31 of each year. So assuming, for instance, that County A and Cities B, C, and D, adopt the approved Community Agenda after November 1, their SDS update would need to be completed and verified by DCA no later than the following February 28 in order to avoid losing eligibility for state funds and permits.
Q. If the SDS is considered adequate by the participating local governments, is there a way that local governments can readopt the existing strategy without going through comprehensive negotiations?
A.Yes. One shortcut available is to agree that current service delivery arrangements are adequate and will be continued until a date in the future. To do this, complete a Form 5 and follow the directions on the form, obtain all required signatures, and send to DCA for verification. Many local governments have used this approach to effectively grant themselves an extension for resolving more complex service delivery negotiations. The form for this is available on the PQG FORM SOURCE page.
Q. If services are being extended from one county to another, or to a city partially within another county, do these services need to be addressed in the strategy?
A. Yes. Intergovernmental arrangements for provision of services by one county to another through intergovernmental agreements or the workings of regional authorities should be described on the service delivery form. For example, if a county is providing water to several cities within its borders and is also providing wholesale water supply to a neighboring county with its own distribution/ treatment system, this should be mentioned on the form for water service. However, the neighboring (customer) county need not sign the providing county's service delivery strategy.
Q. Does an agreement between particular governments for implementation of a portion of the service delivery strategy require the signatures of all parties to the strategy (i.e., the other governments that must adopt the overall service delivery strategy)?
A. Only the particular governments affected by the service delivery arrangements spelled out in the agreement need to sign the agreement. For instance, the county government may have separate agreements with each municipality for delivery of a particular service, so each agreement would be signed by only the chief elected officials of the county and the affected municipality.
Q. What will happen if a citizen, local government, or other interested agency complains to DCA that one or more governments is not following the provisions of its agreed upon service delivery strategy?
A. DCA will generally expect that complaints of this nature be handled at the local level. Complaints received from any party other than a local government will be referred to the local contact person listed on the Service Delivery Forms provided to DCA.
However, an official complaint of this nature from a local government will be investigated by DCA. If the complaint is found to be valid and the deviation from the agreed upon service delivery strategy is significant enough that the strategy could no longer be viewed as accurately representing the service delivery arrangements between the local governments in the county, DCA may require that the strategy be updated and resubmitted for verification within a reasonable time frame.
Q. What will the State consider to be the actual Service Delivery Strategy? The forms we submit to DCA?
A. The forms required to be submitted to DCA are intended to provide a thorough description of the agreed upon arrangements for providing each service in the county. The actual service delivery arrangements, and the intergovernmental agreements used to carry out these agreed upon arrangements, are the service delivery strategy.
DCA will use the descriptions of the service delivery arrangements provided on the forms to determine if the strategy can be verified as meeting the requirements of the state law. The forms will be also be passed on to other state agencies for their use in determining consistency of state administered financial assistance, grant, loans, or permits with the locally adopted service delivery strategies.
Q. Must we send DCA a copy of each executed intergovernmental agreement for implementing our service delivery strategy?
A. No. You may, however, want to send such copies if you believe that they will clarify your answers on the forms.