Consolidation of Local Governments

September 1, 1936

Report Outline
New Support for Governmental Consolidation
Consolidation of Rural County Governments
Governmental Consolidation in Metropolitan Areas
Special Focus

New Support for Governmental Consolidation

Consolidation in American industry, commerce, and finance proceeded apace before the depression, but consolidations of overlapping units of government were brought about only infrequently, painfully, and piecemeal. From time to time, townships, school districts, and other local units were merged or abolished, but the number thus eliminated was no greater than the number of new units established. During the last five years, however, pressure for reduction of tax burdens has greatly widened the basis of support for governmental consolidation. Once urged mainly by reformers, the consolidation movement in recent years has won the support of taxpayers' leagues, chambers of commerce, service clubs, and numerous other citizens' groups.

Because of their wider support, schemes for governmental consolidation, advanced in all sections of the country during the depression, have met with greater success than in the previous period of prosperity. In Wisconsin a law authorizing counties to consolidate was enacted by the legislature in 1935, under pressure from the Wisconsin League of Women Voters. Legislation extending county powers has been adopted in California, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Texas, and other states. Governmental consolidation is at present an issue in Atlanta, Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh. Proposals for some type of consolidation will be brought forward in most of the state legislatures meeting in 1937.

Number of Local Units of Government in United States

Units of local government in the United States number more than 175,300, according to a compilation made by William Anderson, of the University of Minnesota, in 1934, Anderson found that in addition to the federal and state governments there were 3,053 counties, 16,366 incorporated cities and villages, 20,262 towns and townships, 127,108 school districts, and 8,580 miscellaneous units—irrigation, drainage, conservation, and utility districts, and other types of units.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
State and Local Governments
Feb. 26, 2021  State Finances
Sep. 11, 2009  State Budget Crisis
Oct. 03, 2003  State Budget Crises
Dec. 24, 1971  State Legislatures in Transition
Sep. 25, 1968  State Constitutional Reform
Oct. 11, 1967  Local Government Modernization
Aug. 15, 1956  Metropolitan Government
May 25, 1939  Reorganization of City Government
Feb. 24, 1939  Reorganization of County Government
May 23, 1938  Reorganization of State Governments
Oct. 29, 1937  State Control of Local Government
Sep. 01, 1936  Consolidation of Local Governments
Jan. 03, 1933  Reorganization of Local Government
Jun. 02, 1930  Changes in American City Government
Oct. 30, 1924  Political Statistics of the States
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations