Very interesting story in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal about the difficulties of consolidating local governments and local government services.
It focuses on Michigan and Governor Rick Snyder’s push to consolidate some of its many units of government (1,773 municipalities, 609 school districts, 1,071 fire departments and 608 police departments, according to the story).
Though mergers might make fiscal sense, they aren’t always popular, as the story explains:
“Over the years, consolidation proposals haven’t fared well with voters. Of the 105 referendums on city-county mergers since 1902, only 27 have passed, the most recent in 2000, when Louisville, Ky., merged into Jefferson County, according to David Rusk, a Democratic ex-mayor of Albuquerque and a proponent of consolidation. Last year, voters vetoed a merger of Memphis, Tenn., with Shelby County. In March, Memphis voters approved a merger of the city and county school systems, over strong suburban opposition. The county board of education has sued to block the merger.”