UNT Endowed Professor and graduate student guide local cities in plotting a path forward

They brought together leaders of four North Texas municipalities for the first time in determining the next steps in their unique partnership.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Dr. Bob Bland, Endowed Professor in Local Government and the faculty director of the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service’s Center for Public Management, and city management graduate student Chris Byrd facilitated a planning retreat for executive leaders and department heads of the Lake Cities. Lake Cities consists of the cities of Corinth and Hickory Creek and the towns of Lake Dallas and Shady Shores.

“Lake Cities is unusual in that all four communities and their utility district, the Lake Cities Municipal Utility Authority, are geographically constrained by a large lake and a major interstate highway. Yet their proximity makes collaboration in service delivery a cost-effective alternative,” Dr. Bland said. “The four cities and authority also currently cooperate in providing fire protection. The purpose of this retreat was to bring together, for the first time, all of the department heads and executive staff of the four communities to identify additional areas of cooperation and partnership.”

Dr. Bland and Byrd assisted the 30 attendees in identifying close to a dozen additional areas of collaboration, including drainage, parks and trails, broadband installation and public safety.

“The next step will involve identifying initiatives that have the greatest potential for cost reductions with the least complexity,” Dr. Bland said. “As the communities gain experience in working together, they can then pursue more administratively complex areas of cooperation with greater possibility for success.”

Byrd says the retreat was fascinating and he looks forward to seeing the results of his and Dr. Bland’s efforts.

“It will be interesting to see the extent to which the areas of cooperation, which resulted from this workshop, produce opportunities for greater economies of scale among these four communities,” Byrd said. “Moreover, the cooperative nature of this workshop serves as a useful approach smaller communities can follow in order to operate with greater efficiency despite size and population constraints.”

Dean Neale Chumbler says he’s glad to see the talents of HPS being used to continue to improve areas across the metroplex.

“Dr. Bland has had a storied and longstanding career at UNT and continues to parlay his expertise and leadership to communities of North Texas. The work he performed for these four municipalities is very relevant and innovative and he has impressively integrated one of many talented students in the process. Experiences like this provide our MPA students real world experiences that will shape their future careers.”