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Poll Says No To Reducing Counties To 18
WISCREPORT.COM - A recent statewide poll of registered voters in Wisconsin reveals overwhelming opposition to a legislative proposal to reduce the number of counties in the state from 72 to 18. Of those polled, 80 percent said they would encourage their legislators to vote against the plan spearheaded by Representatives Sheldon Wasserman and Frank Lasee.
“I think the citizenry is telling policy makers that the number of counties should not be reduced to an arbitrary number without taking a comprehensive look at what counties are doing in our communities both today and in the future,” said WCA Executive Director Mark D. O’Connell.
The statewide poll also asked Wisconsin citizens if counties were to be reduced, should the Legislature be charged with identifying the right number of counties or should the decision should be made by demographers, academics, futurists and trend analysts.
To this question, 59 percent believed demographers, academics, futurists and trend analysts should be charged with examining the future of Wisconsin and the appropriate number of counties, taking into consideration population and needs for services and programming.
“In upcoming years, Wisconsin will face an explosion in the elderly population as the Baby Boomers reach retirement age and beyond,” said O’Connell. “The demand for county services will skyrocket and it will be up to counties to address the needs of this unique population. In the next twenty-five years, Wisconsin’s population will change dramatically from 13 percent over the age of 65 today to 21 percent over age 65 by 2030.”
“This segment of the population consumes state programs delivered and joint funded by counties. Trends also tell us that the population growth in our state will occur on the fringe of urban areas more so than within. This type of demographic information is what we in the public policy arena should be considering before selecting an arbitrary number of local governmental units,” added O’Connell.
He continued, “The poll results imply knowledge on the part of the citizenry on subjects counties have been talking about in recent years. Our state is aging; we need a more highly educated populous and labor force to compete in a new millennium knowledge-based economy. A more highly educated workforce will result in a higher per capita personal income, which will permit a greater dispersion of the tax burden, thereby providing relief. If we also modify our state’s tax structure to bring it in line with our changing economy, Wisconsin could be positioned very well in the future,” said O’Connell.
The Wood Communications Group Checkpoint Survey was conducted at the end of August and had a margin of error of plus/minus five percentage points.