Municipal Consolidation is About Capacity and Equity, Not Lower Taxes

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There’s a reason that the local governments with highest per-capita costs in New Jersey are both the richest and the poorest. The richest areas want more and better services, and the poorest areas have increased need for the most expensive services (law enforcement and education, namely.) Both have high taxes. The rural areas with low taxes also have crap services.

The whole point of doing this isn’t really lowering taxes, it’s keeping taxes the same and getting more for your money, and also pulling rich suburbs into the city tax bases.

Horrifyingly, the vast majority of PA’s police officers are part-time and have just a few officers who don’t specialize in anything in particular – glorified mall cops, basically. If you had county police forces, a bunch of those cops could be full-time cops, and you could have different specialized units (homicide, drug enforcement, traffic), and more scheduling flexibility for trainings, vacations, etc.

And then there’s the equity selling point too – when you make Cherry Hill and other rich suburban areas throw in for more cops in Camden, you’ve essentially got a regional progressive tax and transfer scheme going. The authors of the new study linked at the top point out that savings tend to be limited since municipal taxes are a lot lower than school taxes, but that’s obviously an argument for school district consolidation too, not against municipal consolidation.

Totally get that tax cuts are the best political selling point for this stuff, but you know, if it doesn’t actually work out that way when people vote for consolidation, other places are going to figure that out and keep not voting for it.

“Get more value for the same money” or “hey remember, you’re liberals and like progressive taxes.”

This entry was posted in Budget, Issues, Regional Politics, Social Services.

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