Attempted Merger Josh Goodman, in his article Attempted Merger, discusses how a lot of the s in the U. S. are asking their localities to merge together, so that there are fewer localities. The states are taking this step in order to lower the expenditure to the state for running so many localities – these separate localities (which include school districts and townships) require separate staff to be hired and separate offices to be maintained.
Goodman describes the case of Maine, a U. S. State, where there are 290 school districts and/or administrative units, even though with the passage of time the number of the K-12 students has dropped 20 percent. The Governor of Maine wants to reduce the number of “school administrative units to 80 or fewer” (Goodman). The Governor, and people who favor the merger of localities, point out that bigger localities or districts would result in saving tax payers a lot of money, as they would not be required to pay for the maintenance of separate official workers and premises for their small districts. Moreover, the money saved can be spent on much needed improvements – such as computer labs for schools.
Local officials are not in favor of such a change. When the Governor of New Jersey decided to force the merger between his State’s towns by proposing to cut aids to them based on their population, “[d]ozens of mayors railed against the plan in rallies around the state” (Goodman). This has been a set pattern everywhere, whenever a Governor tries to implement a consolidation of his State’s localities, the municipal officials react negatively, and ultimately the Governor has to back down due to the opposition.
According to the local officials, and some residents as well, this move by the State equals breaking a tradition in some respects and the State interfering in local politics in others. The state officials, however, deny this. according to one such official, Joseph Daria, “The provision of municipal services… have to do with how you can help people” (Goodman), therefore, tradition and politics should have nothing to do with them. Additionally, as Goodman points out, there is no evidence to prove that these mergers will actually result in cost saving. that is a possibility, but not a certainty.
I feel there is a lot of need for more research on this topic before a conclusion can be made about the effectiveness of locality mergers. There has always been a tradition of “local” democracy in the United States, and the locals have always been suspicious of outside control and interference. Therefore, the negative response of the local officials, and the locals, is foreseeable. They see this consolidation as a danger to their local autonomy. the states should not be interfering with local bodies, just like the States feel the Federal Government should not interfere with their workings. The merger of the localities is, in effect, a question of local autonomy as well, that is why people feel so strongly about it, and that is why, I believe, it should be approached with care and after much research.