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.