Obviously there’s a lot of duplication and waste inherent in Pennsylvania’s fragmented system of local government. When there are 2562 municipalities for 67 counties, clearly a great many local services could be administered more efficiently if local service providers could take advantage of some economy of scale.
Just look at how many police departments and planning commissions we have:
So in theory, there are some local government redundancies that could be ok if they resulted from consolidating services and municipal mergers. But in practice, this isn’t how we’ve been going about reducing local government employment in the recession. We could be combining municipalities and tax bases. We could be combining police departments and planning commissions. Instead, we’ve just been starving the existing under-capitalized local governments, and getting worse services.
The state Republicans’ cuts have forced local governments to either raise local taxes or lay off public employees, and in total, they’ve cut about 5.9% of local public employment since the recession began, according to this data from Governing.