For the past few weeks I’ve been mulling over the cost of decentralized government, wondering how to blog it. Then I picked up this morning’s Times and Tom Brokaw had beaten me to it!
He doesn’t mention Connecticut by name, but we have many problems similar to those he cites for New York, Iowa and the Dakotas.
“Here are a few examples. It’s estimated that New York State has about 10,500 local government entities, from townships to counties to special districts. A year ago a bipartisan state commission said that New Yorkers could save more than a billion dollars a year by consolidating and sharing local government responsibilities like public security, health, roads and education.
One commission member, a county executive, said, “Our system of local government has barely evolved over the past one hundred years and we are still governed by these same archaic institutions formed before the invention of the light bulb, telephone, automobile and computer.””
Each of our 169 towns and cities duplicates the efforts of its neighbors. We have fire and police departments along with road crews and recreation workers.
Some towns, West Haven comes to mind, have multiple fire departments within the same town, each with its own chief and commissioners!
In Connecticut, probably elsewhere too, the wealthy communities don’t want to throw their lot in with the smaller ones. At the same time little towns don’t want to be drowned out by their larger neighbors. I get it.
Having all these layers and levels of government is expensive. Right now it’s a luxury we cannot afford.