County government reform called for anew
BY World's Editorials Writers
Friday, December 14, 2012
12/14/12 at 2:45 AM
The Oklahoma Academy has released its latest list of public policy recommendations, and as usual, its members have shown they are not afraid to call for bold and far-reaching initiatives - which in some cases have almost no chance of being carried out.
But it's a worthwhile exercise to go ahead and put these sometimes-unpopular proposals on the table, because it reminds our leaders that these issues aren't going to go away, and that someday, perhaps, they should take these recommendations seriously.
Among the top recommendations arising out of the academy's latest Town Hall gathering is one calling for the elimination or consolidation of county governments in Oklahoma.
The academy is a private, nonpartisan group of state leaders and thinkers that annually comes together in a town-hall format to arrive at policy recommendations they feel are in the state's best interests. The mission for the latest Town Hall was to focus on how to create prosperity in Oklahoma by 2032.
Reforming county government has been a recommendation of various parties and stakeholders for decades; the academy has called for a constitutional change to restructure county government since 1995.
The state's 77 county governments constitute a system that is inefficient and ineffective, said Steve Kreidler, Town Hall chairman and executive vice president for administration at the University of Central Oklahoma.
"It creates competition and does not encourage collaboration," Kreidler said. "We think more taxpayer money is being spent than needs to be spent to provide the quality of services that folks need in our state."
There really are no strong justifications for operating 77 fiefdoms in the state to handle such services as records-keeping and road maintenance. But the combined cadres of elected officials in each county represent a powerful lobbying force in Oklahoma - one that to date has managed to preserve the status quo. Don't look for that to change any time soon in the state, which means an antiquated, inefficient system of government will remain the law of the land.
Original Print Headline: Reform unlikely