Let's blow up whole notion of cities and towns

May 14, 2009
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RE "LET communities off the leash" (Editorial, May 11): I am not at all sympathetic to the plight of local jurisdictions in the Commonwealth. The reason our 351 cities and towns are financially starving is that we have 351 cities and towns - no doubt necessary during colonial times when communications and transportation were rudimentary, but an extraordinarily inefficient way of delivering services today.

In the eastern half of the state in particular, every few miles the taxpayers are asked to support a town manager, a school superintendent, a police chief, a fire chief, a public works supervisor, etc., and all the administrative staff that go with them. We should place our focus not on how cities and towns can raise more money to continue these anachronistic administrative systems, but on how to deliver essential public services more efficiently.

The answer is to significantly expand the regions within which services are delivered. But regionalization will not come easily. Past efforts have demonstrated that pursuing it is not in the vested interests of cities and towns, so it may take more stick than carrot.

We could take a lesson from the way the Obama administration is dealing with US automobile manufacturers. If our cities and towns are faltering financially but in the aggregate are too important to fail, then, in return for financial support, perhaps we should require some closed "dealerships" and some "industry consolidation."

Paul E. Pakos

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