Metropolitan Area Restructuring

Contributed by Suzanne Leland & Kurt Thurmaier


City-county consolidation may be explored as a possible solution to economic problems that plague local governments. Proponents argue that a merger will bring about technical efficiency by ridding governments of duplication, patronage, corruption , all which rely on limited transparency and increase the costs of service delivery. For metropolitan areas, consolidation is also proposed solution to lowering property taxes in order to compete with nearby suburbs or even capture a new tax base. Additional benefits include improving the localities bond ratings and achieving economies of scale. However, it is important to note that evidence on whether consolidation actually delivers on these promises is mixed and merging local governments is politically difficult and therefore extremely rare. Functional consolidation of selective services through interlocal government agreements are much more popular solutions to a declining economic base. Best Resources:

  • Leland, Suzanne & Kurt Thurmaier. 2010. Eds. City-County Consolidation: Promises Made, Promises Kept?  Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.
  • Leland, Suzanne & Kurt Thurmaier. 2004. Eds. Reshaping the Local Government Landscape: Case Studies of Local Government Consolidation. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. 

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