Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Consolidation -- did anyone notice?

Maybe it was in honor of the no-longer-in office Parks Helms, but county commissioners' chair Jennifer Roberts tossed out an idea Monday night at the swearing-in ceremony. After remarks about the economic challenges facing the county she offered this: Is it time to consider consolidation again?

She meant totally combining Mecklenburg County and City of Charlotte governments. It would save on administrative costs -- only one big-ticket manager, for instance -- and would certainly make it easier for residents to know whom to call if they have a problem.

It's an idea that arises once a decade or so and gets shot down after politicians realize there would be fewer elected jobs for them to run for. Helms championed consolidation for years. But it's too messy: How do you deal with the need for minority representation? How do you deal with Huntersville and Mint Hill and the other smaller towns, for instance? They don't mind being part of Mecklenburg County and they need representation at the county level. But they don't need representation on a "Charlotte" board.

We'll see if Roberts brings it up again. My guess: No.


Anonymous said...

"It's an idea that arises once a decade or so and gets shot down after politicians realize there would be fewer elected jobs for them to run for."

In other words, their greed for power stops them from doing what is possibly best for the people they represent.

Why do we keep electing such people to office?

barkomomma said...

Why do we keep electing such people to office?

cuz were dum. thx CMS!

Rick said...

It could be a silver lining to the economic downturn. The government beast may finally be starved into submission and have to combine operations and downsize like every one else.

Cato said...

This sounds like a decaffienated version of the regionalism that many of our local planning fetishists adore.

Some berg like Huntersville doesn't want to use property taxes to extend the rail line? Then take away Huntersville's autonomy.

Any savings that might be had from reduced managerial headcount would be dwarfed by the expansion of city big-ticket projects county-wide. And the hinter regions of the county would get the privilege of paying through the nose for more uptown gewgaws.

Vibrance all around!

barkomomma said...

Well said, Cato. Kinda like the beach mansion insurance being paid for by jacking up the rates for someone in a log cabin in the mountains.

And I doubt a consolidated GovCo would find reason to reduce headcount. On the contrary, they'd have to have more to keep their eyes on a larger universe.

Anonymous said...

I think Concord and Kannapolis are the best candidates to consolidate.

Anonymous said...

1. there is ZERO evidene that the cost of government would decline. Every governmental function hta thas been consolidated (police, utilities, park/rec) has beccome more expensive, not less after consolidation. The gains, in other words are wholly speculative.

2. Consolidation is anti-democratic. The specific cost of consolidation is LESS effective representation of the people. Fewer representatives for the same population makes every individual's voice a little weaker when speaking to government, and makes each representative less accountable at the polls.

3. Consolidation of power in the hands of fewer people means a less contentious process, but is it precisely the tension and competition between city and county that often slows down the process and allows more input, reflection, and consideration. A streamlined government is more likely to make big mistakes quickly.

the gains are wholly speculative, the costs are not. IT's the last thing the people of the region need.