Is more government better government?
While this argument is being played out on the national scene — arguably by two parties that have both massively increased the size and expense of the national and state governments when it suited their political needs — we’re going to be getting an interesting local debate on the issue in the coming months, as again, a petition drive is being circulated in Kennett Township to expand the number of Township Supervisors from three to five. If successful, the referendum would appear on a November ballot.
This will be the third time in the last 12 years such a drive has asked the township’s voters to increase the number of supervisors, with both previous votes failing by fairly large margins.
Those supporting the expansion cite the growing population of the township, now coming close to 7,000 residents and the need for more representation of the township’s various constituencies. More supervisors, they say, would mean more oversight, more transparency in government.
Those in opposition cite increased taxes and expenses in nearby towns that have added supervisors, specifically East Marlborough and New Garden, although in fairness other structural differences, such as local police costs and so on, play into the differences in municipal tax rate.
And while some of this movement might be aimed at curbing the actions of the current batch of supervisors and the recent controversies over the township’s land trust, this proposed expansion isn’t nearly as good a remedy as the biennial ballot box.
From we can see, the current batch of supervisors don’t appear to be overworked, to be honest. We also don’t see large crowds of residents attending the meetings, which tends to be a signal of general content with local government (in our experience, packed township meetings are packed with unhappy residents).
From what we can see, government seems to grow to fill up capacity; meetings of local townships with five supervisors tend to get more bogged down with more people and more opportunity for disagreements. While that is good for the PRESS and other media outlets, as it gives us more to write about, we’re not sure it always serves the needs of the taxpayers best.
In truth, one could argue that many of the local small towns in our area should have been merged generations ago — as happened in neighboring states — and that as a region, we may have too much local government already and too much inefficiency and duplication of services.
While we’re all for more transparency and better government, the facts don’t seem to bear out a need for more government in Kennett Township. Whatever changes should be made — and one can make that argument far more convincingly — should happen every other year at the ballot box, not by changing the rules of the game.
However, we are disappointed that Township Manager Lisa Moore — no stranger to controversy — apparently sent out an email asking residents to oppose the measure. At best, such an action is wildly inappropriate and more than likely a conflict of interest.
At minimum, it appears Kennett Township needs more supervision, if not supervisors.