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The ABC’s of JPEs (Joint Powers Entities)

Graphic shows how four entities move services to a new entity to create a joint powers entitA Joint Powers Analysis and Worksheet

Date: December 2018

In response to increasing constituent demands, shrinking resources and state and federal mandates, public entities have increasingly looked to the joint exercise of powers to deliver services efficiently and effectively. Protection is granted to governmental units (as defined by statute) that come together in accordance with Minnesota Statutes Section 471.59. Specifically, this law provides that regardless of the number of participating governmental units, the joint powers may be treated as one governmental unit for purposes of liability.

Public entities coming together under Minnesota Statutes Section 471.59 are required to enter into a joint powers agreement. A joint powers agreement can take different forms depending on the needs of the parties. A single set of liability limits for state tort claims will apply when formed and operating pursuant to the statute. The agreement is the legal document that will outline how governmental units will work together. A joint powers agreement can be used to consolidate and transfer operations to a new entity (joint powers entity (JPE)) or it can resemble a contract where governmental units agree to collaborate and deliver a service (joint powers collaboration (JPC)).

When governmental units discuss how they will operate as a joint powers entity or collaborative, a number of questions should be considered. This Resource presents many of these questions, as well as risk management advice for forming a joint powers entity or collaborative.