What About Consolidating The City And The County?

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 28, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Re: “The Single-Member Situation” [News, Feb 25]. While considering single-member districts for Austin City Council, why not also consider Austin school district budget woes and efficiencies in local governing (and taxpayer savings) that can be achieved by consolidation? Consolidating city and county government, and adding even the current school district function, into one combined city/county government offers the opportunity for enormous efficiencies – and the incredible opportunity to combine the planning and growth efforts for all three, currently separate, into one coordinated effort. There is the argument that the school district is a separate entity from city government so that "politics" are kept out of providing pubic education, but does anyone believe that politics do not enter into school district board or district superintendent decisions? So, why not consider consolidating the city of Austin and Travis County governments and folding in the public education function (perhaps as an independent division if possible, perhaps even still with a superintendent and elected or appointed board, reporting directly to the city manager) – with only one human resources department, one payroll, one police department (among others)? So I'd propose revising the 6-2-1 single-member district proposal of Mayor Leffingwell's to a 10-2-1 model, with the additional four seats going to the current Travis County commissioners – and letting those four represent Travis County constituents outside the Austin city limit boundaries (and insuring county resident representation). Worth considering?
Andrew Clements
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