December report on local government consolidation, "said the baseline question is whether two or more units of government are needed if they do essentially the same thing and cover the same people," Povich writes. He told her that “Logically, the answer is ‘no,’ ” but added that "history, politics and pride most times combine to undermine logic."
One problem is that overlapping governments create confusion, Povich writes. "The number of governmental entities has grown so much that states sometimes don’t even know how many municipalities or municipal authorities they have. Illinois identified 8,480 units of government that can collect taxes or have some fiscal authority, Walzer said." Jeff Fulgenzi, senior planner with Citizens’ Efficiency Commission, said "Illinois statute allows for tax collectors at the township level, but 96 percent of property tax payments are made to the county treasurer, not the township."
Advocates for mergers say the process saves money, Povich writes. Liz Lempert, who in 2012 was elected mayor of the Municipality of Princeton—formed with the merger of the Township and the Borough of Princeton, N.J.—said consolidating 911 centers "saved money that was used to add a couple of police stations,". Povich writes. "The main challenge for Princeton has been merging the two public workforces." Lempert told Povich, “Can you have two people side by side doing the same job, getting paid differently? No.” Lempert said she "solved the problem by 'harmonizing' the pay scales, which meant the lower-paid people generally got bumped up. That move, she acknowledged, didn’t save money, but kept morale up among municipal workers. (Read more)