by Hugh Quill
Fewer state tax dollars for Ohio’s local governments and schools have public administrators talking, in the light of day no less, about mergers and shared services – topics long taboo in the Buckeye State. Most public officials fear the former and suspect that the latter is just a catchy phrase that stands for comingling their funds for the benefit of others.
Elected officials can be forgiven for their reluctance to discuss mergers and service consolidations. They didn’t create this maze of public service delivery; and until stagnant population growth and the weakening economy caught up with Ohio, the status quo seemed sustainable. Citizens also have misgivings about consolidation and sharing. They view merging their local governments as a potential loss of identity and fear their sense of community will be sacrificed in the process. In Ohio, all politics really are local, and local control has been a sacred cow politically.