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Study:Twp. consolidation less efficient, costly

February 10, 2010 - The Michigan Townships Association, representing 1,240 townships across the state released a report earlier this month showing that smaller government is more effiecient and saves tax dollars. The study found that consolidations, creating bigger governments, would not save money or improve efficiencies.

In addition to creating inefficient government, the consolidation process could take up to five years to develop and be very costly, according to the study.

"Simply combining local government or local government services does not result in cost savings unless the service consolidation allows for reducing staffing levels or eliminating major capital purchases—and these opportunities cannot be assumed," said G. Lawrence Merrill, MTA Executive Director.

According to the study, consolidation effort would include melding different tax rates, connecting separate infrastructure systems, resolving different levels of debt, rectifying two or more incompatible administrative systems, unifying compensation systems and personnel policies and standardizing ordinances.

Shirley Kautman-Jones, Atlas Township Supervisor agrees and said the township has made many cost-cutting measures to improve the effiency of the small government.

"Small governments can be more reactive compared to going through several layers of government," said Jones. "We can keep our finger on the pulse right here in the community. We are all part of the communty—consider the village of Goodrich, while the Genesee County Road Commission does a fine job, they can't get to the streets in the village like the DPW can."

The township operates on a millage rate of .7, about $70 on a $200,000 home.

Michael D. LaFaive director of the Mackinac Center's Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative was cautious of the study.

"The (MTA) group that did the study is defending its territory," said LaFaive. "Consider all aspects of reducing costs rather than consolidation. For example, will a consolidated goverment benefit from privatization of services? Beyond saving the operating millage? Consider making government more efficient by reducing duplicated services."

Bob DePalma, Groveland Township Supervisor said the issue needs to be discussed.

"Township government is more cost effective than other governments. If townships are eliminated, it will be up to county government. Do residents really want the county running their community?"

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