In Minnesota, it is not uncommon for smaller municipalities, counties, townships or school districts to enter into joint powers agreements with another small entity for purposes of providing better services to its citizens. A joint powers agreement establishes a board which has the power to receive and expend funds, enter contracts, and hire employees, creating a separate joint entity apart from the individual municipalities involved. As an example many communities have entered into joint powers agreements for purposes of providing law enforcement services or fire protection.
In 2014, the Minnesota legislature adopted a new statute which provides certain employee protections in joint powers agreements. The statute governs any joint powers entities established after January 15, 2015 and addresses unionizing, determination of an appropriate bargaining unit, transitioning to a new bargaining unit, interim collective bargaining agreements, as well as contract negotiations and administration.
In addition to reviewing the new statute prior to entering into a joint powers agreement, I would also recommend you review the League of Minnesota Cities document “Ten Things To Watch For When Entering Into Joint Powers Agreements.” By doing a little research upfront regarding the process, headaches could be avoided later.