Have you heard even one good argument in support of consolidation?
In past consolidation histories of other cities and counties, it seems that certain players are always proponents.
City politicians, like the Evansville City Council, stand to gain political power. They also favor consolidation because it is something new, a way to create a shake-up in hopes that something good might pop out of it, and so they can take credit for it. It will serve as camouflage for the city’s ailments, for a while at least.
County politicians, like the Vanderburgh County Commissioners, are more often mixed about it. Some see that their constituents will be paying higher taxes for no change in services, and they oppose it. But more often, other county politicians see their potential to gain political clout as a city-county leader, and so they tend to support the idea.
The risks to both city and county politicians are minimal. If things improve, they grab the credit. If things remain the same or negative things happen, they point to other factors. In either case, this all takes months or years to unfold.
Finally, the mainstream media nearly always supports consolidation. In fact, the Evansville Courier-Press is a particularly blatant example of that. The reason is simple – consolidation serves to magnify their importance county-wide, which could lead to increased circulation.
Does all of this sound familiar?
We’ve read a lot of studies about past consolidations, in cities like Louisville, Tallahasse, Lexington, Nashville, Athens, and Jacksonville. All these studies conclude the same thing. Consolidation is pursued for political reasons, i.e. special interest gains.
Consolidation is not pursued for civic benefit. If it were, there would plenty of factual data to support it, because lots of cities have tried it. The fact is that ACROSS THE BOARD, every study we’ve read shows that consolidation results in either no effect or a decline in efficiency, economic development, services, and taxpayer satisfaction.
Don’t let consolidation happen to Evansville and Vanderburgh County. It is only being pursued for the wrong reasons. There is no historical support in its favor.