Coming from Richfield to Maplewood, where I live, I became aware for the first time that I touched five different municipalities in the process. Each of the residents of these communities take pride in their residence, regardless of their sizes; and most would take offense if they knew one referred to them as living in Minneapolis or St. Paul.
Amid the current struggle of governments of all shapes and sizes to keep their heads above water, it seems to me that there should be a compelling necessity for combining the many minute communities for the sake of maximum efficiency and savings. According to the Star-Tribune, there are more than 200 certified municipalities within the boundaries of the metropolitan Twin Cities. Each has its own municipal structures (mayor, city council, fire department, police department, etc.).
One has to ask: At what price do we all pay in order to maintain the relevance and identity of many municipalities? Among other things, I understand that some of these inner-Twin Cities area communities actually qualify for LGA (local government aid).
In that regard, about a decade or so ago, an aggressive chairman of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners proposed to the mayor and city council of Minneapolis that the two bodies (the largest state governing bodies) launch exploratory talks on merging some of their functions. The suggestion went over like a lead balloon with both the public and the Minneapolis officials.
Each political entity, it seems, is afraid of losing some of its power and prestige. Many of the citizens, and increasingly more of the citizens, apparently are afraid that any combining of services constitutes an attempt to “take over” the city’s function, rather than a collaborative mutual benefit to improve services at lower prices.
Merger of small communities for the sake of efficiency and economy is a difficult job, and certainly one that politically is not popular. People become too attached to their own community, regardless of its size. They also sometimes yield to stereotypes and myths that often arise around metropolitan areas these days: “The inner cities are crime infested while the suburbs are crime free, etc.”
I, for one, predict that eventually the economy is going to force us to recognize the truth that we no longer live in a multitude of parochial towns, but a giant regional city. The Southern city of Louisville, Kentucky, for example, has paved the way by a full merger with its Jefferson County.
Matthew Little welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
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