Thursday, December 03, 2009

Nebraska institute suggests county consolidation

Municipal consolidation is catching on again in cities in light of the recession, but one free-market think tank says that movement should move to rural counties as well. Nebraska's Platte Institute for Economic Research released a policy study last month that said, "Having 93 counties in Nebraska does not make sense," Haya El Nasser of USA Today reports. Nebraska has one of the country's highest number of counties per 100,000 people. Eleven of its 93 counties have fewer than 1,000 people and 36 have fewer than 5,000.

Platte's analysis said the state should consolidate some county services into 20 "county centers" from the 85 currently outside the Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan areas. The group concluded if the centers were designated as actual county seats the number of county offices would be cut by 77 percent, Nasser reports. Most Nebraska residents would live within 60 miles of one of the 20 centers.

But as you might expect, the Platte Institute proposal draws some ire. "It's not only control, but it's identity," Platte Executive Director John McCollister told Nasser. "It's like taking somebody's post office away." Rutgers University professor Frank Popper told Nasser the plan wouldn't guarantee savings because some of the remote counties have few services to cut. Jerry Adamson, a county commissioner in Cherry, the state's largest county, told Nasser, "I don't see this county consolidating with anybody. One size doesn't fit all." (Read more)

1 comment:

Howard Owens said...

Only a bureaucrat can love big government.

Nobody ever talks about the human and social cost of consolidation, which is to move decisions further from the people and further erode the democratic ideal of human-sized government.