Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A Farewell to Counties

It's news items like this that make independent Maine gubernatorial candidate Barbara Merrill's county-merging idea seem like it doesn't go far enough: Knox County Administrator Jane Desaulniers, who has worked for the county under a probationary status for six months, will get a net severance lump sum payment of $35,360. The total cost to the county will be almost $57k.

Only one of the three county commissioners voted against the payout. Reading between the lines in the Courier-Gazette story, it seems that a lawsuit had been threatened over some undisclosed personnel issue between Desaulniers and the county. For such an unusually large severance package, it would have needed to be an issue that two of the councilors thought they'd more likely lose.

I'm actually in favor of entirely doing away with county governments in the State of Maine. There isn't any function that the counties fulfill that couldn't be assigned to state or municipal levels of government. Indeed, most of the county functions are duplicative or unnecessary.

And the county commissioners of every county seem to be only slightly less corrupt and arrogant than the members of government school boards. The number of decisions that are made secretly (in violation of Maine's sunshine laws) by county boards and the rate of growth of county personnel and budgets are the part of the high tax burden in Maine that escapes most Mainers' notice.

Maine Counties delendae sunt! (Of course, then we'd have to write a new song.)



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