In an article posted on the Huffington Post, William Alden reports that cities can no longer survive on their declined revenue and some are considering merging with other strapped localities to share services and cut costs.
“Local officials in Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, California and other states are considering municipal mergers, which some see as the only way to preserve services amid a historic economic downturn. Zionsville, Ind., combined with two townships last year, and political and economic pressures are pushing other communities in that direction. In California, some cities are outsourcing services to their counties. In Michigan, politicians in Detroit and neighboring Hamtramck say merging the two governments might save the dollars needed to stay afloat.” Alden reports.
“This is, I think, going to happen nationwide. Not just in Detroit suburbs or New York suburbs or Chicago suburbs, but in effect everywhere,” said veteran municipal strategist Thompson Dyke, founder of the Chicago-based urban planning firm Thompson Dyke & Associates.
“They’re approaching the concept of consolidating their governments reluctantly,” he continued. “They don’t want to do it, I don’t think. But they see this as something the electorate is going to increasingly ask for.”
“The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression has left many governments struggling to perform the most basic of functions. Tax receipts have withered as property values have fallen and residents have cut back on spending. Pension fund assets plunged as the stock market tumbled, with many municipal pension plans now requiring outsized contributions from taxpayers. And with states desperate to fill their own budget holes, many localities have gone without crucial portions of state aid.”