Posted on May 16, 2011 4:46 PM
Sharing or Consolidating Local Services -- What Do Residents Want?
GO TO 2040 supports efforts, where practical, to coordinate and consolidate local services. Especially in this fiscal environment, it may prudent for some local governments to consider sharing or consolidating services, where appropriate. At the extreme, some local governments may find it in their fiscal interest to fully consolidate all government functions.
However, GO TO 2040 also cautions that consolidation may not be a panacea. As the plan states: “It is important to recognize that not all services are created equal and that consolidation does carry a fair degree of risk. Opponents of consolidation argue that such action may result in a loss of both local control and efficiency, since the level of demand for services becomes more diffuse and varied across wider populations. Proponents of consolidation argue that services like public safety know no jurisdictional boundaries and exist more as a metropolitan-wide rather than localized issue. As the issue does not lend itself to simple conclusions, it is important for local governments to analyze these issues intensely and to coordinate and communicate with each other regarding potential consolidation opportunities.”
A recent study by Marist College surveys residents of New York State on their attitudes about service and government consolidation. The results show that residents strongly support the consolidation of some services over others. Transportation related services top the list, as 73 percent favor consolidation of public transportation services and 68 percent favor consolidation of highway maintenance services. Parks and recreation service consolidation (66 percent) is also favored. However, respondents are not as optimistic about police (51 percent), fire and rescue (48 percent) or school district consolidation (45 percent).
The poll also surveyed New York residents about their view of state and local governance efficiency, as well as the risks and opportunities of consolidation. Find the full study here.