Milwaukee businessman Sheldon Lubar believes that county government should be eliminated.
But he doesn’t go far enough. Counties should be eliminated all together.
The additional governmental level of counties is unnecessary and the role of County government could be divvied up between state and city government.
I say this as someone who has served as a County Supervisor.
Counties introduce an extra, unnecessary level of politicization which does little to serve its citizens.
Case in point, in Milwaukee County the rhetoric of cutting taxes has resulted in an erosion of responsibility from our elected leaders. A general decay of our park system, unprecedented cuts in our mass transit system and the recent talk of privatizing the airport for a quick fix of cash are not signs of responsible leadership.
At the same time, counties act as scapegoats for state politicians who shift costs, in the form of unfunded state mandates, onto local governments. This has resulted in an underfunded court system and overcrowded jails. Although state politicians pass the laws, county government must pay to hold the accused until they are convicted and sent to a state prison. With underfunded courts, counties struggle to house the accused.
In a trip to visit family in Germany my Grandfather struggled with how he would explain what I did to his brother. “They got rid of Counties when they got rid of Kings” he explained to me.
If counties were eliminated, city or village governments would be responsible for their own local parks and transportation. State government would have no one to blame for problems in the court system or in providing health and human services as it would be their people who would directly run things.
It would be the end of scapegoating and would result in enhanced services though a better definition of responsibilities and increased efficiencies.