Thank Casey County Clerk Casey Davis for reviving the idea of eliminating the duties of his office. Our 120 counties are excessive for a small state like Kentucky. Some 47 states have fewer counties.
County competition for scarce resources overburdens taxpayers and reduces opportunities for our children and grandchildren. People keep telling me that constitutional change is too difficult to achieve and will not happen. Yet, I cannot accept the illogical and unreasonable as our future.
If, as Davis suggests, applications for marriage licenses can be submitted online, then there are no functions of each county clerk that cannot also be supplied likewise.
If we find a need for regional offices, Kentucky should be able to operate those more cheaply and efficiently than continuing to run 120 county governmental centers. Similar merger and regional ideas should be considered for other county offices.
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County attorneys could operate from currently established district court boundaries. Circuit court clerks could be organized by circuit court districts, not by county boundaries. Property valuation administrators could be relieved from over-dependence on dominant local industries by merging the offices of adjacent counties.
Over 200 years ago, county boundaries were set when horseback rides from the county seat to the county limits and back took an entire day. Today, sheriffs can easily drive much greater distances in their cruisers. Merged intercounty offices are already encouraged by the General Assembly and regional planning agencies are authorized by statute.
Perhaps the largest impediments to Shaping Our Appalachian Region efforts in Eastern Kentucky are jealous local concerns that each county will not get its share of the planned benefits. Maybe school districts could benefit most from regional mergers of several counties' school systems.
The largest employers in most counties are the local governments and the school systems. Already, these organizations have begun to buy into some of the principles which private businesses and schools have long advocated. Good businesses save money by reorganizing along regional and product lines. Governments should do the same. Billions of dollars of our tax monies could be saved and used for other pressing purposes, like funding the hugely underfunded state pension plans.