De-Incorporate Cities and Towns, re-instate County government, Save Money

I have not had a chance to fully research this position, however my gut tells me that one of the fundamental ways we are in the financial trouble as a state is the fact that we have 351 local governmental entities.  Each with its own fire chief, each with its own police chief, each with its own administrator, each with its own board of selectmen, each with its own town clerk, etc…, etc…

Other states do not operate like this.  They have some municipalities but vast swatches of land are under the purview of county government.  There is a price to pay for local municipal independence.

I am challenging RMG to help me look up the data as to how other states spend their money especially in county services vs. municipal services to see if there are savings.

Deperate times call for Bold measures.  Let’s explore together if there may be significant savings by de-incorporating every city or town with less than say 70,000 population and providing municipal services via re-instated county government.

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno

  • nomad943

    I will give you credit for bold thinking, even if I dont tend to agree.

    I have seen places function similarly to what you are describing, mostly in the deep south and in areas that can only be defined as rural.

    Towns within these county jurisdictions, even towns as small as 1,000, tend to defend their local identiities. I dont see how such a system would be acceptable to say Essex or Bristol counties.

    But there is some potential and some precident (school districts ect).

    my 2 cents …

  • Vote3rdpartynow

    do what tens of thousands of others have done – pack the bags and move to a state that doesn’t have political hacks, pushy unions, liberal moonbats, and one party government.

  • wavemaker

    The bigger and further away government gets from the gass roots, the more inefficient and corrupt it gets. Ther eis a reason why the legislature eliminated county government a while back — it was incompetent, wasteful and rife with corruption. At least here in MA, county government would provide the pols with the institutional connections to beat out the competent, capable and honest every time.

    Now, if we were to scrap all the sities, towns and counties entirely and redraw the state into 75-100 counties, then perhaps that could have a chance.

    But I don’t really think it’s a good idea to have the police and fire chiefs in charge of 15 stations instead of two or three. And I don’t even want to consider what would result from having the “Council of Plymouth County” governing from Quincy to Sagamore.

  • Other states have vast areas of very sparse rural population.  County governments are used to organize these people who don’t really live in organized towns.  Here in Massachusetts we don’t really have that.  Even out in western Mass, it just doesn’t compare.

  • Seaworthy

    Can’t share fire, police, schools, and public health etc.

    Our currebt system is redundant and wasteful. We can elect and un elect county officials. The problem in the county governments seized by the state these past ten or fifteen years was that the sheriffs thought that they had an open checkbook and began to build their own police dept’s on the scale of a state police—when in fact they were only hoteliers (jailers) Plymouth County is presently going down that same drain now 4 million in the red and looking for a handout from the state. We have Plymouth County Sheriff’s Dept squad cars with 10 thousand dollars paint jobs, parked (hiding) in school yards, the back of Dunk’n Donuts etc. it’s outrageous.

    Properly done we can have “regional police, fire dept’s as we currently have regional schools. It saves money—a lot of it.  

  • Gittle

    Rhode Island is identical, and the other New England states are practically identical.  Maine, having once been part of the Commonwealth, is almost the same, but some towns have disincorporated and have services picked up by neighbouring towns.  New Hampshire is fairly close to Maine, but the only areas where there are no unincorporated territories are in the rural north (primarily Coos County).  Vermont and Connecticut are hybrids of New England and New York organisation.  In Connecticut, all land is a part of a town, but cities often form within towns and the large cities are coterminous with their previous towns.  In Vermont, cities are sometimes entirely surrounded by towns of the same name (which happens in New York), and often form out of incorporated villages.

    New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all have incorporated municipalities covering incorporated territory.  In New York, there are towns and cities, but within towns, there are villages.  In New Jersey, there are cities, boroughs, and townships.  In Pennsylvania, there are cities, townships, boroughs, “home-rule municipalities,” and I believe there is also one town.  All of these are independent municipalities.

    So, essentially, the tradition of local government organisation north of the Mason-Dixon line is different than elsewhere.  I don’t think it’s that easy to say that all of the former colonies (except in the South) are doing it wrong. 😉

  • gary

    NC is predominatly county governance, but possibly by necessity because of the large rural areas, with homes miles from any town.

    Whether it would work or not in Mass, might be politically irrelevance:  too much energy has gone into downsizing the importance of counties to now reverse direction.

    However, it’s economies of scale that your after, and it makes no sense for towns to cling to their autonomy to the point that they have to have i) their own school ii) their own water/sewer treatment iii) their own police and fire iv) their own senior center…

    Rather than re-invent counties, why not encourage (how?) cooperation of towns to share significant government functions: regional schools, shared fire/police…

  • The Angelic One

    Whenever a political idea is presented for consideration, one must ask the following questions: 1) Does the idea jibe with the aspirations of the voters? 2) Does the idea support/attack the political paradigm of either party? 3) What kind of practical application would be needed to make said idea a reality?

    1) Does The Idea Jibe With The Aspirations Of The Voters?

    Given the popularity of “gated communities” across the Commonwealth & the resistance many municipalities feel about either losing control over their respective communities or subsidizing another community, I very much doubt that “de-incorporating” said municipalities will be popular with voters.

    2) Does The Idea Support/Attack The Political Paradigm Of Either Party?

    And as Wavemaker noted, Massachusetts county government has gradually been abolished due to the level of corruption it engendered. Its role in maintaining the Democrat paradigm, however, was important. Bringing back county government would only strengthen the Democrat paradigm. A Republican paradigm based on the party’s core philosophical principles would focus on strengthening municipalities at the expense of Beacon Hill’s centralized power. Any idea whose practical application results in the reification of limited government is an idea which should be embraced by the Republican Party.

    3) What kind of practical application would be needed to make said idea a reality?

    Given voter suspicion of expanding government to include country government or their suspicion of any legislation that might alter or circumvent Home Rule, I doubt the idea would have the political support necessary to make it a reality. Municipalities can & do work together on issues of common interest either by themselves, through the MMA (Massachusetts Municipal Association), or mediation via some third party. Thus conservatives/Republicans would be better off on focusing attention on assisting municipalities on said issues of common interest while at the same time developing a practical ideology which contributes towards the strengthening of communities at the expense of Beacon Hill.

  • They had a ballot inititive where they almost unincorproated, and turned over vital functions to Lincoln County.

    Much of the pro and con is detailed there.

    Bottom line – resignation to the county cost average householder slightly more, and it was defeated.

    Here’s a couple of my other county-related posts from a few years ago as well –