It’s a question that deserves an answer: how many local governments are too many local governments.

If half of Orange County’s population is served by seven cities, could the taxpayers be better served if there were fewer than 27 municipalities for the other half?

That seems to be the assertion of both this article and Fred Smoller, the Director of Brandman University’s Public Administration graduate program.

Citing a Cities report produced by the State Controller, the article mentions that nearly $5.5 billion is spent by California cities each year to pay for employees.

From The Orange County Register:

In OC, seven cities serve half the county’s population  – 1.5 million people.

So…does it really require another 27 cities to serve the other 1.5 million people?

This riddle has been gnawing at Fred Smoller, director of Brandman University’s public administration graduate program, for some time. “We can argue about whether individual city managers make too much money,” says Smoller (whose students upset the apple cart by helping Laguna Hills city councilwoman-elect Barbara Stir-the-Pot Kogerman with her wildly controversial, and incredibly prescient, city manager compensation survey).

“But what we really need to talk about is the proliferation of local government entities, including the 12 water districts and JPAs and so forth. Is this the way to best organize the delivery of services in Orange County for the 21st century, with India and China breathing down our backs, and the state facing billion dollar deficits, record foreclosures, and cutbacks in tuition, and a tremendous infrastructure needs?”

Read the full article here.