Municipal Service Reviews and Spheres of Influence

What are Municipal Service Reviews and Spheres of Influence?

Municipal Service Reviews 

State Law requires that one of the functions of a local agency formation commission is to conduct sphere of influence updates (SOIs) for all agencies under its jurisdiction by January 1, 2008 and every five years after that. State Law also requires the completion of municipal service reviews (MSRs) before determining an agency’s SOI. Consequently, all MSRs are precursors to SOIs. This is logical because SOIs determine how fast and how much an agency may grow within a determinate period of time. In order for the Commission to make that determination, it must first analyze how well that agency is currently providing services so that it can extrapolate where the agency will be in the future. The MSR is intended to be the tool to assist the Commission in that analysis: An MSR is a “snapshot” of how the agency is currently providing services. More comprehensive than a management plan or an audit, the MSR is designed to examine all facets of the agency, from infrastructure needs and deficiencies to management practices and financing.

Spheres of Influence 

The Commission utilizes the MSR data to evaluate proposals that may affect a district and/or how fast or how much an agency may expand in the next 10 to 20 years. In other words, an SOI is a planning boundary outside an agency’s service area. It designates the agency’s probable future boundary and service area. Factors considered in an SOI update include current and future land use, the current and future need for service and any related “community of interest.”

SOI time horizons vary: sometimes an SOI is set for 10 years, others are set for 20 years and others may not have a predetermined timeframe. Generally speaking, fast growing or agencies with a significant service capacity may have SOIs with multiple time horizons; whereas, agencies with a limited capacity to grow may only receive one SOI line. From a practical standpoint, there is no difference between a 10-year SOI and 20-year SOI, since both are the best estimate of the probable service area for an agency over time, depending upon the Commission’s determination of an agency’s service capacity as detailed in the MSR.

Municipal Service Review Scope 

The First Cycle was done by service; therefore, there are multiple reports for multiple service agencies. The Second Cycle was done by agency and, subsequently, the report is all-encompassing for all active powers.