mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Voters in Cash-Strapped Michigan Say “It Takes a Village”

In efforts to save money and streamline state government, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently set up a plan to consolidate municipalities into larger entities. This effort hasn’t met with universal approval, highlighting a debate between the virtues of hyperlocal government and those of a leaner administrative state. The WSJ‘s coverage opens with an account of Onekama Village, whose residents rejected a planned merger with the larger, surrounding municipality of Onekama Township:

Under the proposal, which was the subject of a page-one Wall Street Journal article last year, the village government would have been dissolved and its work taken over by the township. Tax bills for village residents would have shrunk, while those for township residents would have stayed the same. A couple of jobs would have been eliminated. Funds from Mr. Snyder’s administration would have eased the transition.

The township’s supervisor and the village’s president backed the plan. Yet villagers were skeptical of giving up their independent heritage and handing over control of assets like the sewage system. “The village wants to remain a village,” village President Bob Blackmore said. “That is in essence what it is.”

As Snyder’s administration sees it, the elimination of unnecessary government will go a long way toward addressing the fiscal crisis at the state, county, and municipal levels in Michigan.

Via Meadia isn’t in a position to comment on whether Onekama Village’s decision here is savvy or short-sighted, but municipal and county consolidation will likely be an important component of efficient delivery of government services in communities across the country in this era of budget cutbacks.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Andrew Knutson

    Consolidation leads to corruption. Check out Duval and Dade counties in Florida.
    Promised efficiencies disappear and accountability fades away.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “The Government Monopoly can never be the efficient organ that Leftists desire, because it suffers from the same problem all Monopolies suffer from; the lack of feedback from competition that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price, in the Capitalist System.” Jacksonian Libertarian

    There is a village outside Atlanta that contracts out all of its services, and has only 2 employees (Manager, and a Lawyer). It forces businesses to compete to provide the services the village requires, and because of this the Quality, Service, and Price are all massively better than the other towns around Atlanta. If this Michigan village does the same, I would expect similar results.

  • John Burke

    I know nothing about these Michigan municipalities, but I am a longtime resident of Westchester County, NY, which has a crazy quilt of townships, villages within the towns or stretching across town borders, and school districts that overlap all the rest. Plus, there is a county-level government with significant responsibilities. Every so often, some “good government” types complain about this disorderly system, catalog supposed redundancies, and claim that “reform” would produce all manner of efficiencies and cost savings, usually by consolidations and concentrating more power at the county level.

    But this is all baloney. The current system may seem messy, but it keeps local government really local. In villages of 10,000 or 15,000, municipal officials are constantly on the hot seat. Waste, corruption, mismanagement, etc. are impossible to hide and harder to justify to citizens who gladly show up at board meetings to complain and bottonhole elected leaders who are otherwise mere neighbors. School boards are even more kept on a short leash by active parents.

    Bigger is rarely better where government is concerned.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service