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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

State Rep. Lyle Larson pre-files bill to make Govt. efficient

State Rep.-Elect Lyle Larson (photo) pre-files legislation to make government efficient

Says city-county consolidation will save local governments money

Nearly a month before the 82nd Legislative Session convenes on January 11, 2011, Lyle Larson filed a constitutional amendment, HJR 44, to allow Texans to vote to consolidate major cities and counties in Texas to make local governments more efficient. Additionally, Larson filed enabling legislation, HB 431, which will determine how the consolidation will occur.

Having served in local government for 16 years, first as a San Antonio City Councilman and as a Bexar County Commissioner, Larson brings a unique perspective and firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of both entities, shaping his belief that consolidation would be a change for the better.

“Based on 2010 election results, the message is clear that people are demanding more accountability and more efficiency in government,” said Larson. “San Antonio-Bexar County could serve as a model for smaller, more efficient metropolitan government for the three other major metropolitan areas in Texas – Houston, Dallas and Austin – and for other counties and cities nationwide. Though city-county consolidation has been discussed in Texas for decades, now is the perfect time to revisit the concept as we continue to face tough economic times.”

The constitutional amendment will allow Texas voters to choose whether to give cities and counties the ability to merge and the enabling legislation will set up a charter committee, which former San Antonio Mayor Howard Peak has agreed to chair. Larson has met with several local city and county leaders, many of whom support the idea, including Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff, San Antonio City Council members Reed Williams, Elisa Chan and John Clamp.

Throughout the last few decades, several major cities and counties have consolidated, including Nashville and Davidson County, Indianapolis and Marion County, Jacksonville and Duval County and Louisville and Jefferson County. All have realized significant savings, greater efficiency, and increased responsiveness to their constituents. After consolidating in 2003, Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky were able to increase the effectiveness of economic development efforts, increase the number of law enforcement officers and achieve a better line of communication between the government and its constituents.

“It’s time to consolidate San Antonio and Bexar County for efficiency, to shed layers of administrative duplication and to provide seamless accountability to constituents,” said Larson.

H.JR. 44 and HB 431 will follow the legislative process once the 82nd Session convenes.

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