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MadVlad

Learning from Louisville

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Here's an article from todays Courant about the Louisville/County merger of 2000. You can basically replace Louisville with Hartford in the first 3 paragraphs. That's where the tale splits.

A few of the finer points: Hartford was in the running for the UPS shipping hub, and lost to Louisville probably because they have their act together, and we don't. I'm not sure how the municipal structure would work out since mostly everything is incorporated, but I could be wrong. Didn't we have a list floating around a few weeks ago of what was an incorporated city, etc? The park system and merger of services is exactly the type of thing Hartford and the surrounding areas need. The incorporated areas also would have the option of unincorporating and joining the city proper. I'm confident the details could be ironed out, if we could just convince the surrounding areas to go for it....

Thoughts?

Merge with the County

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I read the article this morning as well and thought it interesting...

I always hate being pessimistic when the issue of county -- or regional -- incorporation in Connecticut comes up, but I think it will be a very long time until Hartford and its surrounding suburbs consider incorporating under one jurisdiction. Even if that time ever comes, I still see the suburbs incorporating together (e.g. the reunification of Wethersfield, Newington, and Rocky Hill) before they would incorporate with a city like Hartford or New Britain. There is still a lot of ignorant suburban animosity aimed at Connecticut's urban cores and the baseless fear that if regional incorporation were to occur, the crime, drugs, and poverty sensationalized by the press would immediately invade "perfect" suburban neighborhoods. I think this animosity and fear -- combined with almost four hundred years of town rule -- make county or regional incorporation a long shot at best, despite the economic benefits such an incorporation would offer.

As for UPS, I would argue that Louisville's lower cost of living and more central geographic location probably won it the shipping hub in the end.

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No one in New England should use the word annexation, it's a dead end, it's not going to happen. However, many of the things Louisville has done can be achieved without dissolving suburban governments and incorporating them into the city. In Rhode Island, talk of consolidating the school districts is gaining steam, RI has 30 something school districts covering a population 1/8 the size of the NYC school District, and about 1/6 the size of the LA Unified School District. One of the proposals is to make 5 RI school districts to roughly represent the geographical areas of the state. The Governor is pushing an urban school district covering Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls, which is coming across as racist, but has it's merits. Like Louisville, RI is also moving to a state wide unified emergency communication system, the state is forcing all municipalities to comply.

There's no reason that cities and towns can't come together to regionalize some functions, but still maintain their yankee independence. Rhode Island has an advantage of size, where the state's diminutive nature allows things to easily happen at the state level. Connecticut should look to bringing back some functions of the counties. Just moving the schools, police, fire, and EMS up to one unified county system in Hartford County would save the cities and towns in the county hundreds of thousands of dollars. Move public works and parks up to the county level to save more.

As to the residential and business growth happening in Louisville's core right now, I don't really see that the merger has much impact on that, the south is just hot, downtown Louisville would be seeing a building boom regardless of if incorporation happened or not. Certainly there are benefits to having a large metro speak as one voice, but there's no reason that the independent cities and towns in Hartford County can't do that now (and cross the border and get Springfield in on the actions).

If there were a vote on merger in Providence right now, I'd vote no. And the reason I'd vote no is that I don't want the suburban voters to have a say in Providence's affairs. Now if it were just an urban merger, Pawtucket and Central Falls joining Providence, then I'd be all for it.

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The problem with CT is, is that everybody likes the status quo. An idea like this would be great for CT, but I don't think the people here will let it happen at this time, even though it would benefit us.

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Here's an article from todays Courant about the Louisville/County merger of 2000. You can basically replace Louisville with Hartford in the first 3 paragraphs. That's where the tale splits.

A few of the finer points: Hartford was in the running for the UPS shipping hub, and lost to Louisville probably because they have their act together, and we don't. I'm not sure how the municipal structure would work out since mostly everything is incorporated, but I could be wrong. Didn't we have a list floating around a few weeks ago of what was an incorporated city, etc? The park system and merger of services is exactly the type of thing Hartford and the surrounding areas need. The incorporated areas also would have the option of unincorporating and joining the city proper. I'm confident the details could be ironed out, if we could just convince the surrounding areas to go for it....

Thoughts?

Merge with the County

MadVlad:

Why do you want Hartford to merge with the suburbs? Here, in Florida, towns are trying to incorperate because the COUNTY is too big! People want LOCALIZED governments. People want to talk to their mayor -- and it could be their neighbor. In Louisville, who do they talk to -- layers of GOVERNMENT!! (Sorry, if anyone ran on a platform to merge Hartford and its Suburbs -- they would lose!)

JimS

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MadVlad:

Why do you want Hartford to merge with the suburbs? Here, in Florida, towns are trying to incorperate because the COUNTY is too big! People want LOCALIZED governments. People want to talk to their mayor -- and it could be their neighbor. In Louisville, who do they talk to -- layers of GOVERNMENT!! (Sorry, if anyone ran on a platform to merge Hartford and its Suburbs -- they would lose!)

JimS

ANd you are right, if someone did run on that platform they would indeed lose. However, I think the fracyional governing of every single little town fractionalizes the area and makes it an internal competition instead of an external competition. We could do away with some local government waste too, getting rid of some layers and get some real regional planning together. Maybe people would have some pride in the city that is the reason for their towns existance in it's current form instead of hiding away in their mcmansions afariad to go to "the city". It would also give us some statistical gains to help and compete with other cities in the nation...

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The bottom line is that while Hartford and Louisville are very statistically similar metro areas, Louisville now looks way better on paper and will therefore win out in most instances where looking good on paper will help. These are pretty much all instances when investment from outside of the market are desired to be brought into the market.

With that said, it's not neccessary or likely to happen but would be helpful in many instances for economic investment.

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The people who look at these papers to decide where they want to locate their business are not looking at just city stats, they aren't so stupid as to be confused by Hartford's targeted crime stats vs. Louisville's incorporated crime stats for example. They are looking at regional and state statistics. The problem is Kentucky looks better on paper than Connecticut does.

As for intraregional competition, a lot of that comes from New England's formula for funding education. The burden is placed on the municipalities to pay for education, the taxes to pay for it come from property taxes. The suburbs don't want more residents to cover the costs of education, that just brings more people, and more students and more costs. They are looking for businesses. That's why we have strip mall sprawl popping up in every suburb. That's why we have office parks in every suburb. If the suburbs didn't have this huge tax burden, more of them would be happy to be simple bedroom communities with limited retail to serve their residents. And most people would be perfectly happy commuting to the central city rather than commuting suburb to suburb. People only work in the suburbs now because that's where the jobs are. Regionalize the school districts, and move more of the funding burden to the state level, and a lot of pressure on the suburbs will be releived. You just need to get the teachers unions in line behind these changes, which won't be easy.

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As for intraregional competition, a lot of that comes from New England's formula for funding education. The burden is placed on the municipalities to pay for education, the taxes to pay for it come from property taxes. The suburbs don't want more residents to cover the costs of education, that just brings more people, and more students and more costs. They are looking for businesses. That's why we have strip mall sprawl popping up in every suburb. That's why we have office parks in every suburb. If the suburbs didn't have this huge tax burden, more of them would be happy to be simple bedroom communities with limited retail to serve their residents. And most people would be perfectly happy commuting to the central city rather than commuting suburb to suburb. People only work in the suburbs now because that's where the jobs are. Regionalize the school districts, and move more of the funding burden to the state level, and a lot of pressure on the suburbs will be releived. You just need to get the teachers unions in line behind these changes, which won't be easy.

Why would the unions oppose it? Surely not simply because they fear change?

Sorry. I've never heard this argument before. Enlighten me, please & thanks.

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Why would the unions oppose it? Surely not simply because they fear change?

Sorry. I've never heard this argument before. Enlighten me, please & thanks.

a larger district means that salaries would have to be adjusted across the new district, to account for any differences in pay between the various districts... that's not even mentioning benefit packages.

also, the people who work in the barrington school district probably wouldnt' want to be associated with the east providence school district (where i'm sure people get paid less). that's just an example from RI. i'm sure the people of the fairfield or trumbull school districts would not want to be part of the bridgeport district in CT (or west hartford and hartford)...

and i might be wrong here, but i think the unions are all different based on the district... that would mean combining unions or removing some altogether. think about that one...

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in response to the whole topic at hand... cotuit is right. businesses and corporations look at much more than just the city. so hartford's poor looking stats based on the small land area aren't as much of a factor.

when you talk about tourists and people who want to live in a city, there's city people and non-city people. many of those people aren't going to change. i have this guy who works here who says that no one goes to downtown providence anymore... taht it was much better back in the 70's and 80's. my mother is still afraid of new haven, yet she grew up in inner city new haven. my aunt (mom's sister) is afraid to come to providence (she lives in warwick). once a good portion of the people who fear the city die off or don't have a large influence on others anymore, you'll see things change. but there will still be people who just don't want to go to a city and some who like all cities. some who like only large cities like new york, boston, chicago, san francisco, etc, and some who prefer small cities. the suburban culture is not going to die because of annexation. the suburbanites who like/dislike the city cores are not going to change their minds because they're suddenly living within the city limits.

also... do you think that the people of east hartford and west hartford will change to want the whole place better (including the city core)? that won't happen until the current crop of people who love their quiet little suburb and want everything for their part of the "city" are no longer here. instead of caring about all of west hartford, they'll be caring about their neighborhood, the west side of hartford.

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Why would the unions oppose it? Surely not simply because they fear change?

Basically yes, they fear change. Specifically because all union contracts would come up for renewal since the district they were written with would cease to exist.

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once a good portion of the people who fear the city die off

Mayor Laffey, is that you? :rofl:

Thanks for the explanations, fellas. Makes good sense to me.

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