Too Many Governments … Here and Elsewhere

Indiana needs local government efficiency. It didn’t happen legislatively in 2009, but it will return next year. The Chamber and its allies won’t rest until taxpayer dollars are treated as gold, nepotism and outright fraud become relics of the past and our state moves away from a system that is now nearly 160 years old.

We, of course, are not on an island. A Kansas researcher lists his home state and four neighbors as topping the list in fewest residents per government unit. Yes, they (for the most part) share rural characteristics, but that in itself is not a valid excuse. Paul Soutar writes:

While government efficiency may be a challenge for large rural states, it’s not an insurmountable one.  Utah is very close to Kansas in terms of population and area, with 2,645,330 residents and 82,144 square miles, but has 9,761 residents per general-purpose government.

The difference is not a matter of geography or population but instead the number of governments.  Kansas has 2,084, compared with 244 in Idaho and 271 in Utah.

Read the full story.

City-County Unification: Pittsburgh Trying

The UniGov relationship between Indianapolis and Marion County that developed 40 years ago remains more the exception than the norm. Discussions of city-county working agreements in Fort Wayne and Evansville, among other places, have taken place in recent years.

The local government efficiency focus in-state has shifted to the Kernan-Shepard Commission and its 27 recommendations. Perhaps no issue is more important to long-term economic reform. Count the Indiana Chamber (with an assist from former Gov. Joe Kernan) among the chief advocates in spreading the word and working for enactment.

Louisville/Jefferson County is the recent model of success (2005 BizVoice story). Other city-county consolidations, according to Governing magazine: Nashville/Davidson County, Jacksonville/Duval County, Boston, Denver, New Orleans, Honolulu, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

A potential marriage between Pittsburgh and Allegheny County has never gained traction. Officials keep trying, but the latest proposal would exempt the county’s 129 other municipalities (129; seems like local government on steroids).

Pennsylvanians will have their say later this year at the polls. Indiana voters will be going to the polls in referendum elections for 43 township assessors (much more to come on that topic) with the General Assembly and others tackling comprehensive reform in 2009.