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Merging During a Time of Fiscal Crisis: A Financial Condition Analysis of the Augusta-Richmond City-County Consolidation

Author: WESLEY MEARES, WILLIAM HATCHER and COURTNEY ROBERTS
Published in PAQ, Vol. 42 No. 4

City-county consolidation is an administrative reform prescribed to improve the fiscal health of local governments in the United States. However, city-county mergers are rare political events, and scholarship has presented mixed findings regarding the effectiveness of the reform as a fiscal tool. In the history of the nation, only around 40 cities and counties have merged, and this relatively small number imposes limitations on research into the phenomenon (Jespon, 2008). In this paper, we examine the effectiveness of consolidation in improving the fiscal health of local governments using a case study analysis, examining pre- and post-measures of fiscal health in Augusta, Georgia, in the period from 1990-2002. These measures were based on work by Rivenbark, Roenigk, and Allison (2010), Smith and Afonso (2016), and Kelly and Adhikari (2012). The findings from this study are of interest to public administrators regarding the effectiveness of city-county consolidation as a fiscal tool.

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