, Muskogee, OK

January 5, 2013

Regional government bad thought

— A nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy group needs to spend more time in its tank thinking.

The Oklahoma Academy recently raised the idea to abolish or consolidate the state’s system of county governments.

The idea, which would require a vote to change the state’s constitution, would take control from local governments and put it in the hands of regional authorities.

Oklahoma Academy states the county government system is “antiquated, inefficient, ineffective and increases competition among municipalities and counties for resources.”

There is merit to that statement in the case of some forms of government.

We have long been in favor of consolidating some of the numerous tiny school districts throughout the state for the various reasons mentioned by the academy.

Smaller townships also might benefit from regional agreements to buy water, for example.

However, to dissolve county governments in favor of regional ones strips citizens of local control.

It seems most counterproductive to rural areas.

Larger cities — such as Tulsa and Oklahoma City — take up a great deal of their counties.

The rest of state is rural and its people are best served by their neighbors, not by someone who could be two counties away.

If regionalization makes the most sense, then why stop at counties? Shouldn’t we abolish states and form regional governments?

Local government serves citizens best.

The academy should go back to the drawing board.