Remaking Local Government: Success and Failure Under Indiana’s Government Modernization Act

Charles D. Taylor, Dagney Faulk, Pamela Schaal


During the period of 2008 to 2012, four consolidation attempts occurred under Indiana’s Government Modernization Act: two proposing city–county consolidation and two proposing town–township consolidation. The town–township mergers received overwhelming support, with more than 70% of voters approving consolidation in each case. The city–county mergers, on the other hand, were each defeated by a margin of approximately two to one. In this paper, we conduct a comparative case study of the four consolidation proposals using Leland and Thurmaier’s (2004) C3 model as an analytical framework. The results of our study indicate that greater demographic diversity and the potential for large cost shifts from urban to rural customers stimulated opposition to the city–county consolidations. The successful town–township consolidations were characterized by more homogeneous populations and modest and predictable fiscal impacts. We find no evidence that pre-existing functional consolidation or strong elite advocacy on behalf of consolidation leads to greater support for the referendum.


Local Government Consolidation; Comparative Case Study; Indiana

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