Municipal Boundaries – One Driver of Inefficient Local Government

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff.

It stands to reason, say some, that eliminating some of the overlapping layers of local government—villages, in particular—will save lots of money. The facts are more complicated.

In CGR’s experience after studying more than three dozen communities in the last five years or so, the operational savings from a simple merger are typically modest.  Yet this misses one of the important reasons for communities to review their local government structures—the capital budgets of local governments.  Decisions about capital investments are often made through the lens of a single local government—the individual town, village or school district. Even though these individual governments may be running their governments efficiently, many studies show that taxpayers are paying for more buildings, more equipment, and more people to manage them than would be needed if local government services were managed by thinking regionally. Four examples illustrate this point. Read more »

Citizens Have the Power to Reduce Fire District Costs

Posted by & filed under CGR Staff, Democrat & Chronicles.

Charles ZettekThe December 8 election for fire district commissioners is a date to remember for taxpayers who are interested in reducing local property taxes.  By state law, fire districts are separate and independent units of local government, typically governed by five to seven commissioners who are elected by voters within each fire district.  Terms are staggered so that changing a board requires several elections.  From the perspective of taxpayers, the key point is this – fire commissioners develop and approve the budget for their district and determine the property taxes needed to support their budget.  Thus, if taxpayers want to reduce their fire district property tax, taxpayers need to convince their fire commissioners to reduce the district budget, or elect different commissioners at the next election.

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