From a distance

By AL DIAMON  |  September 28, 2011

(Not really. It takes nearly three hours to get from Harrison to Bangor — or about as long as from Moosehorn Crossing.)

While those on the county's frontier gripe about being forced to pay for a facility that provides little benefit to their towns, they seem to be missing the point. The problem here is not with the civic center being in Portland. It's with the way the county is configured to include municipalities with nothing in common.

In 2010, a think tank called Envision Maine issued a report calling the state's counties "peculiar creatures" and suggesting their number be reduced from 16 to eight. Not bad, but even with Envision's new lines, Harrison would still be lumped in with Portland, and Moosehorn Crossing would be linked with Bangor.

A better approach would be to abolish county government altogether. Transfer its few functions to the state (thereby ending the awkward bifurcated responsibility for county jails) and allow municipalities to form whatever regional alliances seemed appropriate to them.

Bureaucracy would be reduced.

Property taxes would go down.

Accountability of elected officials would increase.

Beer would be cheaper.

OK, I made that last one up. But there's no doubt that eliminating counties would mean the decision about whether there's to be blackjack in Bangor or luxury boxes for hockey games in Portland would be up to the taxpayers most impacted by those issues.

And whoever's in Moosehorn Crossing could go back to worrying about . . . I dunno . . . moose?

Counter my county argument by emailing me ataldiamon@herniahill.net.

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