Saturday, June 27, 2009

Barriers to Regionalism

The Dayton Business Journal has some extensive reportage on regionalization issue due to a recent panel discussion hosted by the D B-J. There will be another panel discussion about Southwest Ohio regional economy in July.

There was also an D B-J editorial on the topic, essentially endorsing some form of regional government.

The event occasioned some comment over at the Dayton Most Metero regionalism subforum, which is probably the best online place to have an informed discussion on the subject (see also the last few posts on the Akron/Chattanooga/Louisville economic development thread, also at DMM).

The D B-J mentioned two previous looks at regionalization, by the Dayton Development Coalition: one in 2006 and another in 2007.

Barriers identified in the 2006 study were:

1. lack of unity between the races
2. fear of higher taxes
3. minorities afraid of losing power and fair represenatation
4. fear of the spread of poverty
5. fear of losing power in large government
6. voters remaining unaware of regional combination attempts.

The D B-J goes on to say that the 2007 identified some additional barriers:

1. the general perception of Dayton city
3. the economic state of Dayton (the article didn't clarify if this was the city or the entire area)
2. competition between suburbs
3. transitory nature of government officials
4. opposition from affluent suburbs because of costs and "carrying" other communities.

It seems the barriers to conventional city/county merger form of metropolitan government are insurmountable in this area, though it is heartening to see Joey Williams and Dan Foley taking the lead on the issue (from the political side). Yet, the local business community seems to be finally getting behind the concept, if the Business-Journal interest is any indication. Still, no clear champions have surfaced from the private sector to really push the issue, which is in itself a big local weakness.

Since governmental merger is a non-starter, perhaps people need to get creative and look at different approaches at regionalization. Since the big regional concern is economic development...the weak local economy, which crosses city and suburban boundaries...that should be were regional efforts should concentrate, since it is the one area were people agree something needs to be done.


"TheDonald" said...

This area is extremely Balkanized and it's really just a matter of attitude and is not "functional". To locals, Dayton and Kettering are galaxies apart and never the twain shall meet, but to someone from outside the region, they are just part of the same big glob.

For example, on this discussion board - - some of the members there constantly bitch about Monroe grabbing economic development opportunities that are never presented to Middletown. We're talking about two small cities less than 5 miles apart.

The current structure of many small local governments does seem extremely artificial. A region as a whole should have equal access to opportunities and should share both the impact costs and the revenues of economic expansion. There's no "force field" keeping someone in Dayton from applying for a job in Miamisburg. Jobs and growth benefit the whole region, so the increased tax base should as well.

Anonymous said...

If the region really got behind revenue sharing as a permanent fixture of doing business, this would be a big first step on the road toward regional economic development. For one thing, municipalities would be less concerned about where a company locates. Some local cities have already engaged in revenue sharing, but it should become an everyday way of doing business.

Jefferey said...

I'd like to know more about already existing revenue sharing. These sound like ad-hoc agreements, sort of like the JEDD at Austin Road.

About the only thing I'm aware of on a countywide base is ED/GE, which is sort of a voluntary program, where muncipalities can choose to participate or not.

Bruce Kettelle said...

I seem to remember an agreement to share income taxes from GM between Kettering and Dayton in the last two years.