Is it time to get rid of the townships and consolidate?

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I wrote a post on the old LivingstonTalk.com site last year about getting rid of all the townships in Livingston County and, instead, organizing our community around the five school districts.

Check out this interesting piece from Michigan Radio about a proposed merger on the west side of the state that is huge in both scope and precedence. If successful, this merger will shake up Michigan like no Constitutional Convention could.

I shared the post’s link on Facebook this morning, as did a couple friends. Former state Sen. Valde Garcia entered the conversation on one friend’s thread, saying this:

“It is definitely worth looking at, but I add this cautionary note, there are some very real practical considerations that must be taken into account. Some things look good on the surface, but can’t come together for reasons that are not political or due to turf wars. But having said that, I hope they succeed.”

Consider that in Livingston County we are supporting 16 townships, two cities, two villages, six school districts (including our Livingston Educational Service Agency) and one county government, in addition to our road commission, EMS service and various fire departments. Each and every one of these units of government has its own governing body, too.

Think, too, why we need so many fire departments and so many police departments. If there is an inspiration for consolidation of emergency services, it should be Livingston County EMS, which works throughout the entire community so well.

Though they’re not public bodies, does Livingston County really need so many chambers of commerce?

Does all this duplication make sense and can we afford to keep paying for it?

When Livingston County was the fastest-growing county in Michigan with the highest per-capita income, there was little motivation for our units of government to consider cooperation or consolidation as routine modus operandi. There were more than enough fiefdoms to go around and taxpayers willing to foot the bill. Our community wealth made it easy.

But no more.

There are so many scales of economy to be achieved when turf lines are eliminated.

I don’t mean to say that our various units of government have operated without cooperating with each other. There are some great examples of cooperative ventures in our community.

That said, these are treacherous times for our community, and the success of our future demands that we consider throwing out the government-as-usual model.

What do you think?

 

About Maria Stuart 211 Articles

Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as a reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse. You can check out her website by clicking here.