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Old 02-19-2015, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Read all about it here.

What I find interesting is this compares cities across all OCED countries, not just within the U.S. It has been remarked in the past that Sun Belt cities tended to both have high economic growth and less municipal fragmentation, but the data was inconclusive, given the Sun Belt had many other things which also may have caused growth (e.g., lower wages, cheaper housing, etc). This result is apparently robust across cities throughout the developed world, which suggests that a less fragmented metropolitan area really does convey economic advantages.
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Old 02-19-2015, 03:37 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Pittsburgh has always had a lot of fragmentation, but did fine during its industrial heyday.

In fact, the industry actually promoted some of the fragmentation. Munhall, Homestead and West Homestead were all one, before 1900, the steel interests thought that a split up would make the area better for them.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:19 PM
 
56,676 posts, read 80,995,527 times
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I've been saying this for years on here, but I believe that many Northern areas could benefit greatly from consolidation of governments. Plain and simple, as it could help lessen the tax burden on the residents of these areas.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
I've been saying this for years on here, but I believe that many Northern areas could benefit greatly from consolidation of governments. Plain and simple, as it could help lessen the tax burden on the residents of these areas.
Theoretically, it sounds like it should.


But here in Allegheny County, most of the 130 municipalities have volunteer fire companies- hiring professional full time firefighters throughout the county would be a massive undertaking. Many of the boroughs and townships have part time police, bringing them all up to the city standard of full time would be another huge expense.


Refuse collection in the city is done by full time civil servants, the vast majority of the other municipalities deal with contractors, parsing this out to equalize services would be a sticky wicket.

Outlying burbs have things like septic tanks and well water, gas fracking, even coal mining. Expecting the Pittsburgh city administration to deal with these things that they just aren't familiar with sounds like it will cost people a lot of money.

I'd expect taxes to go up considerably if it actually came down here.
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Old 02-19-2015, 06:54 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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I grew up in Hampton Roads where it is a metro of 7 cities, and none of them want to work together.
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Old 02-19-2015, 06:55 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Originally Posted by urbanlife78 View Post
I grew up in Hampton Roads where it is a metro of 7 cities, and none of them want to work together.
How do you think a forced marriage would have worked under that kind of hostility?
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Originally Posted by I_Like_Spam View Post
How do you think a forced marriage would have worked under that kind of hostility?
I don't know, but the metro could have been helped by having some sort of metro government that took care of metro things and worked as a mediator between cities.
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:55 PM
 
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I think consolidation of school districts, but with zones could work. Perhaps having a metro police department could help. There are many ways to consolidate governments.
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Old 02-19-2015, 08:20 PM
 
3,269 posts, read 3,008,464 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
I've been saying this for years on here, but I believe that many Northern areas could benefit greatly from consolidation of governments. Plain and simple, as it could help lessen the tax burden on the residents of these areas.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
I think consolidation of school districts, but with zones could work. Perhaps having a metro police department could help. There are many ways to consolidate governments.
In NJ, and maybe it's different where you're from with a handful of exceptions almost everyone who talks about merging school districts or towns while claiming to seek savings doesn't actually care about that but is really trying to forcibly absorb towns with better schools or tax bases into towns with much worse ones. On the flip side, people who actually care about savings mainly talk about shared services, but even then in a subdued manner due to the chilling effect of the first group of people -- not worth trying to split costs if it comes at a risk of an unwelcome neighbor trying to sue their way in, you pay more in legal costs than you save and then have the small but catastrophic possibility of losing in court, so nothing at all gets done even though there are obvious and simple ways to save a bit of cash left in plain sight on the table.

Provincialism is also a thing. There's a town called Guttenberg down in Hudson county NJ which is pretty indistinguishable from its neighbors, is literally three blocks wide, has a ~3% tax burden and horrible parking situation due to its size, and doesn't want to merge with its neighbors not out of economic or scholastic differences (it's similar to both) but purely to preserve the local identity (and jobs for the local politicians and municipal employees, but that goes without saying) . It's more than a little silly, but what can you do if that's what the local voters want it's what they want.
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Old 02-21-2015, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 7,336,499 times
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Municipal consolidation in NYS has been pushed as a cost saving measure but there is absolutely no evidence that consolidation actually does it. Some rural villages have voted to unincorporate themselves, but all they've done is replace the elected village level government with a "municipal service district" that's run by an appointed board. That's because the people who live in the town outside the village who are on wells and septic systems rather than village water and sewer, and don't have sidewalks or street lights or even a part-time village police force, can't be forced to pay for services they don't get. They sure as heck aren't going to pick up the debt for the village's water system or sewer plant, either.

Even in built up suburban towns where everyone is hooked into public water and sewer (usually already provided by the town or the county), villages may have sidewalks and street lights while streets outside the village don't. It might make sense for these villages to unincorporate, but I'm not aware of any in WNY that have chosen to do so.

About ten years ago, there was an abortive attempt to merge the city of Buffalo with Erie County, which was a blatant attempt by the Republican county exec to gain control of the Buffalo's patronage system. That would have only merged city and county government, and left town governments as they were.

School district mergers are very difficult in NYS, not because of laws so much as because of people's attachment to their schools. Outside of the Buffalo Public Schools, school districts in WNY are based on physical boundaries that have been in place for as long as 60 or 70 years. Many families in rural districts have been going to the same school districts -- sometimes in the very same buildings or with the same teachers -- for generations (my second grade teacher taught my father in the one room school house up the road from where we lived). In suburban districts, families buy homes, often paying premiums, not only to get into a specific district but into a specific elementary school attendance district.

Very often neighboring districts have very different demographics that contribute to the schools having very different cultures. Even when school districts agree to merge, the consolidation can be very rocky and very embittering if the cultures are too different. I think most consolidation votes fail because of this.

A possible promising change in school consolidation methods has emerged in Chautauqua County where a possible regional high school may replace four or five small high schools. The districts would remain independent and maintain their own elementary and middle schools but would jointly fund a high school.
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