24 different communities, 24 different governments

Reading the Dayton Daily News article about financial standing of local communities, it reminded me of our number one failing in local government- we don’t have local government, we have an entire league of governments.

On the Montgomery County site they list 24:

* Brookville

* Butler Township

* Centerville

* Clay Township

* Clayton

* Dayton

* Englewood

* Germantown

* German Township

* Harrison Township

* Huber Heights

* Jefferson Township

* Kettering

* Miamisburg

* Miami Township

* Moraine

* New Lebanon

* Oakwood

* Riverside

* Trotwood

* Union

* Vandalia

* Washington Township

* West Carrollton

via Montgomery County, Ohio – Government.

That means 24 city managers, 24 mayors, 24 police chiefs- you get the picture.

They compete for resources, they compete for funding, they compete for everything except to make the region competitive on a global scale, because they are too busy competing with each other.

If we switched to UniGov or regional government we could save substantial money by eliminating redundancy. We may also be able to afford better leadership. Sure, we’d be cutting quite a few jobs at a time when jobs are hard to come by, but- we’d have a better environment for business with fewer jurisdictions to have to pay taxes to, fewer rules to break unintentionally as business people, and a clear idea of who is leading us and where they are going to take us.

If elected to the Dayton City Commission, I hope to make my position obsolete before it’s time to reelect me.

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changemastertruthGrowthAdvocateMichaelShannon Recent comment authors
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What?  If you can pull this plan off, you have to be the top candidate for unigov commissioner!

blubber blog

That is CRAZY ! 
David – I can only hope that you could make a difference !

David Lauri

Good luck, but I don’t see how you’d manage this as a city commissioner of a relatively small (compared to the 3 big C’s) city.  Unigov in Indianapolis/Marion County required an act of the Indiana legislature.  I can’t see Ohio’s legislature enabling unigov for Dayton/Montgomery County without doing it first for the big C’s, and the big C’s have just as many people whose self interest runs counter to unigov.

For example, Franklin County has 13 cities, 12 villages and 17 townships, all of the politicians and administrators of which wouldn’t want to give up their power or jobs any more than do those in Montgomery County. Cuyahoga and Hamilton Counties are even more ridden with individual municipalities.

Something to consider is that Indianapolis’s Unigov was accomplished in part by allowing a few of Marion County’s smaller cities to opt out.  I bet the powers that be in Oakwood for example would be less likely to oppose a Montgomery County unigov if Oakwood could remain autonomous.

But really one city commissioner in one of Ohio’s second tier cities isn’t going to be able to manage this, though I suppose you could start the discussion.  It will really take people in the state legislature to do it.

David Lauri

Here’s an interesting article about Louisville (which has a consolidated government with its county but that excludes its incorporated suburbs) and Pittsburgh (whose unsuccessful votes on consolidating with its county took place in the 1920s but which has been again considering unigov):


Louisville suburban cities compared to the Holy Roman Empire:


(and why Dayton suburbs are “different”).

Bruce Kettelle

Here’s a little more about recent developments in Pittsburgh


Maybe I just don’t understand, but why would I want this? I live in Vandalia, with good schools, no big box retail, a low, low crime rate, and $20m in the general fund; and pay (what I consider to be) a premium for it via my propety tax and income tax. Why would I want to dilute that?

Drexel Dave Sparks

Because the suburbo slum is creeping its way up North Dixie via regional economic debilitation. Creeping pretty fast too.


Please understand, the philosophy behind unigov, is what we need. Moraine is probably a prime candidate now. However, as it relates to the Vandalia, Oakwood, and many other successful areas in the Dayton area,,,,,who/why would anyone  want a remote connection to the city of Dayton, in its current state of affairs?

Too much protected “heavy” infrastructure.
Too much corruption in the city police and judicial system.
Terrible schools.
 Too little vision and passion within city limits…most of which has located to the more successful “burbs” around Dayton.(if they havent already joined the current “exodus” to more progressive communities in other states)
Terrible attitudes to the big businesses and financial contributors/philanthropists of Dayton.(i.e. Schuster Center/Mead Corp)

Shall I stop here…..?

Understand, success will have to begin in the city limits, before anyone would even consider merging to a unigov system.


Why would I want to dilute that?

You wouldn’t, and neither would most suburbanites.  The status quo is working fine for the more economically viable suburbs, except this status quo leads to a high tax burden, which is a dis-incentive to business location.  This is an Ohio-wide problem as much as a Dayton metro area problem.

As for Bill’s remarks, as long as metropolitanism is seen as a “Dayton city thing” the concep will go nowhere.

Bruce Kettelle

Five River MetroParks, EDGE, and County Dispatch Services are good steps.  Rather than ponder who might or might not want to participate look for additional steps that could be added to the base that we have.  Identifying services that unify the region’s neighborhoods will help all of us speak with one voice.  What do we have in common?  How can we strengthen these commonalities?


Certainly we understand why  there are 24 communities/24 governments. ..
It would seem very typical of a city such as Dayton, which is out of touch with citizens, promoting plight to suburban communities, where government is more geared toward the people.
 People want to be a part of their community. When community leaders are more concerned about their own salaries/political ambitions, they lose touch with the communities. Losing touch with citizens promotes corruption, to maintain office.
Dayton has a long history of corruption….and will have until, we have a complete change of administration.


One of the things that makes a city, region or state successful is its ability to attract outsiders to come live here.  In our current set up, we are competing against each other.  Cities rely on city income tax, counties on sales tax, townships on property taxes.    This scenario allows corporations to pit us against each other to compete for their business.  Businessed – especially small ones – don’t want to mess with multiple taxing entities when it comes time to fill out the quarterly returns.  IF we were to merge, we’d be larger than each of the 3Cs and that would make us the premier region in the state to locate.  That also means we’d command more attention as a media market, in receiving federal dollars, etc.  It’s a game changer.  Right now the City of Dayton has roughly 150,000 residents but the overall region is closer to 1.2 million.  However, because Dayton is the core, outsiders think we only have 150,000 in the region.  Within a 2 hour drive time, we are the same size as Atlanta, with more educational institutions and a better educated workforce – but because we are so fragmented, no one outside the area knows that. We’re not going to lose our identity as Kettering, Oakwood, Centerville or Springboro.  Look at how Dayton is a City of Neighborhoods with South Park, Oregon, St Anne’s, Wright Dunbar, Grafton, Fort McKinley, etc.  It’s not much different that Miami Valley Hospital and Good Sam – which are both part of Premier Health Partners. It’s about efficiency and I’m 0pretty sure having 24 city managers, police & fire chiefs, school districts, etc is NOT efficient.  While bigger is not always better, think of how corporations often decentralize.  We’d have a regional Police Chief and the other 23 would likely become district commanders.  Imagine if, for example, we put the Oakwood School Board & Superintendent in charge of ALL schools in the region – think of how good ALL of those schools could be.  Kids would still attend schools in their neighborhood, but the governance would be of a higher… Read more »


….and will have until, we have a complete change of administration.

…the agenda is revealed.  This is about the Democrats controlling the city commission.  Actually this is one reason the GOP in Louisvlle supported merger, because they saw a chance at obtaining political  control and influence.

In the Dayton case, it would be EASIER to have a “complete change of administration”  with a city/county merger.  Using the current situation as an excuse for opposing this is pretty lame.

Bruce Kettelle

The first step would be to fire all the local “economic development” people

What was the first step in Louisville?

Ice Bandit
Ice Bandit

   Trust one central government for the welfare of the Miami Valley? Ya’ might as well have reps from Nambla run your cub scout troop.  Fact is, big government is the reason places like Dayton are in decline and the ‘burbs are booming. Readers of this blog who have not walked this earth as long as the old Bandito may not know that in the last 50 years the Gem City had a wonderful and safe blue-collar enclave in the area where the County Building and Sinclair College now reside (obliterated by I-75 construction). Or thousands lived in the houses that dotted Montgomery Street (now North Keowee) before the insanity known as “urban renewal” made them economic refugees in the 1960s. Or that one could walk from Fifth Street to Xenia Avenue along Allen Street (now called Drummer Street) before big government decided it was more important for people in Xenia to be able to drive to Dayton 10 minutes faster than have sustainable urban neighborhoods. Crime, sub-par schools and urban blight aren’t the only reasons thousands flocked to places like Vandalia and Kettering. The governments’ war on cities during the “Great Society” era left tens of thousands who would have preferred urban living no other alternative. And besides, when in American history have folks not been on the move? Historians used to refer to this phenomena with such benign tags as the “westward movement” or the “northern exodus.” It has only been recently that airbags like Al Gore label this with the negative reference as “sprawl.”  Americans, by and large, do not want government to micro-manage their lives; they merely want government to do its’ core tasks and then leave them alone. Big government isn’t capable of mastering an urban renaissance, it is capable of only fostering further urban erosion…………..

Bruce Kettelle

Bandito, the suburbs will grow with or without unity.  What might change is is how they grow, what types of businesses they attract, and how they are viewed nationally: as unknowns or as part of the unified area.  For instance we read how NCR is moving to Atlanta and than a few on this board pointed out no they are moving to this suburb of Atlanta no one around here has ever heard of.  If Atlanta had a UniGov umbrella that latter point simply goes away.

Even Louisville’s mayor admits their suburban areas are still growing

.. and retaining the boundaries we view as important does not stop the unwanted effects of urbanization.  These boundaries are invisible to criminals and natural growth.

Please tell us why you think that the Dayton region is doing so well that we don’t need to consider a UniGov solution.


Why should the successful brothers help the older, broken down, uneducated brother who thinks he should win by default.

Your headlines says it all – 24 DIFFERENT communities. Trying to force the mix of rich and poor and middle class is only to the benefit of the poor, makes the rich move, and makes the middle class pissed off.
How about this – get the Dayton neighborhoods to shape up (SP, OD, PPark, OND) and improve on the education then maybe you can dream of unifying cities that are more alike. This is not a white/black thing, it is a money/values thing. Dayton has no money and poor overall values. Good Luck.

David Lauri

LOL, yes, unigov would never work in Dayton/Montgomery County because big governments are bad and because our 24 jurisdictions are made up of different classes of people.  Just as cities such as Indianapolis and Chicago and New York City are just about to shut down because their governments are too big and their populations too diverse.


What was the first step in Louisville?

How far back do you want to go? 

To the 1940s and 1950s? when the Louisville Water Company assumed repsonsibility for water supply to the suburbs and the Metropolitan Sewer Distrct was set up to provide countywide sewer service (and that was a long time coming), and a consolidated planning and zoning board was set up so there would be metropolitan planning and zoning?

To the 1960s?  When the county and city parks departments merged into MetroParks and the Post Office turned the various post offices in the county into branch stations,  so your address read “Louisville” even though you lived in a suburb.

To the 1970s? When a countywide police department was set up?

To the 1980s?  When economic development activities started to be merged and the City-County Compact was established for revenue sharing purposes, which also had a moratorium for new annexations and incorporations.

To the 1990s? When the private and public sector economic development activities were finally merged under one big unmbrella group, Greater Louisville Inc?

Ultimatley it goes back to Louisvillians (unlike people who live  in the Dayton area) seeing themselves as part of a Greater Louisville, and that there was enough civic pride that Lexington about to overtake Louisville in population (due to it being a merged city-county since 1972) caused people to support merger more than they would have. 

That and a multimillion dollar pro-merger ad blitz organized by the business community (including frequent targeted opinion polling) combined with cheerleading by the local media and bipartisan political support.


Those ignorant of local history should be informed.

40 or so years ago, Kettering and Oakwood and the like were petitioning to be incorporated into Dayton–and Dayton didn’t want them.

Now the opposite condition is in effect.

The pendulum will eventually swing again.


This is false, and is an old urban legend.  The real story behind Kettering and Oakwood is 180% opposite.  Here is the blog post that tells the true story (and how Moraine came to be a seperate city):



Oakwood never wanted to be a part of Dayton.

Keep dreamin’ Daytonians – NO TAX DOLLARS FOR YOU. NO SCHOOLS FOR YOU.


“Why should the successful brothers help the older, broken down, uneducated brother who thinks he should win by default.”
Don’t group all departments within the City of Dayton together.  As I look at the list of the 24 communities;
*Brookville * Butler Township * Centerville * Clay Township * Clayton * Dayton * Englewood * Germantown * German Township * Harrison Township * Huber Heights * Jefferson Township * Kettering * Miamisburg * Miami Township * Moraine * New Lebanon * Riverside * Trotwood * Union * Vandalia * Washington Township * West Carrollton
All or some parts of these communities are supplied by the City of Dayton’s Water Supply & Treatment Division, either directly or thru a meter owned by the county. And if the question is asked “do they have the ability to do it right?”, the water quality can speak for itself.  The WS&T has the most “skin in this game”, owning and maintaining most of the infrastructure.  I think if savings are to be made by eliminating redundancy, this is the first place to start.  WS & T has its own water plants, laboratory, pumping stations, and the City of Dayton’s water distribution department can easily adapt to handle the county’s system (operation and repair).
You’re right, Oakwood has it’s own water dept. Sure not the best water quality. 

David Lauri

@Shannon: Don’t people under the dome usually drink Perrier or Fiji water instead of tap water anyway?


Dayton has better water than Oakwood.

Do they have better schools, better police, better fire department, better government, better people, better money, better service than Oakwood? ……… Ahhh, NO. Dayton has better bums and better criminals and better dirty people.

Trying to convince places like Oakwood to do UniGov is like trying to convince The Pope that abortion is OK.

UniGov is a waste of time. I think we need to improve our schools and get businesses to relocate or start up in Dayton. But you liberals want to focus on the impossible……….

UniGov……. good luck.

Or maybe we could actually like get some jobs to this area…… What is more important? A dream that will never come around in 5000 years or getting some jobs to this area?



What this boils down to, is that the only way to get the more successful suburbanites to care about downtown is to force them at gunpoint to “invest” in it.

Oakwood’s schools aren’t good just because of the people in charge, but because those people have control of the local money at their level.

Centralization is never a good thing. How do you think the U.S. ended up with such an empire?  Once “The United States are…” became “The United States is…” the beast was created. Let’s not put even more lives into the hands of even fewer bureaucrats.

David Lauri

Arguing against unigov because of schools is pointless.  Indianapolis/Marion County has Unigov, but there are still independent local school districts.  For example, Franklin Township, although a part of Unigov, still has its own school district –Franklin Township Community Schools — http://www.ftcsc.k12.in.us, and Lawrence Township, also a part of Unigov, has its own school district — Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township — http://www.ltschools.org.  (Get the whole list of Indianapolis public schools at http://imaps.indygov.org/schools/process.asp.)

Thus a Dayton/Montgomery County unigov would not also result in a Dayton/Montgomery County School District unless specific actions were taken to that effect.

And wasting time arguing whether Oakwood could be persuaded to join a unigov is pointless too as Unigov in Indianapolis and Metro Government in Louisville had exemptions for certain suburbs.

David Lauri

And you know, trying to convince your Average Joe Citizen that unigov is good is pointless too, at least as a first step.  If David E really wants to make unigov a priority, he needs to convince local business leaders that some form of consolidated government would be better for them; if he succeeds in that, they’ll fund a media campaign to convince the plebes of unigov’s merit.


Simple, I truly believe that a merger of willing participants is where we will have to start although I don’t think it will be the best plan of action. Struggling municipalities could ban together to create a stronger urban core then the surrounding places would have a greater interest in joining. Dayton, Harrison Twp., Jefferson Twp., Riverside, Trotwood, and Moraine would be the entities that should consider this most.  That would bring the urban core to 250k residents and its no secret that these are the communities that are strugling the most in our region.  Although I don’t think this is the “best” wasy to get it done, I think it is the most logical way to start. In my opinion the best plan of action would be to take  a page out of the Louisville Metro book. We have all these communities, give them representation on a City Council. Thus each section of the city can elect representation on the council and we can all elect a Mayor of a city of over a half million people. An emphasis on the FACT that it would not effect school districts would have to be in place. Unfortunately the affluent don’t want their kids going to school with the less fortunate so any discussion on merger of school districts would be a fatal blow to this effort. I believe that using the Louisville model is the best way to get it done in Dayton/Montgomery county. For all those so against metro gov’t, they should look at the cities that already have it, Louisville, Indianapolis, Nashville, and Jacksonville. I don’t think anyone would argue against that these cities are more vibrant and prosperous than our own beloved city.  Maintaining community identety, financial benefit, “security” from the ills of the “inner-city”, and leaving my school alone are the key points to getting something like this accomplished. The other alternative is just stay the course of what we have now and we see where that has us.  Then the arguement will arise what to call it because our society is that petty. Dayton Region, Greater Dayton,… Read more »


The folks in the burbs hold their elected officials accountable for their money.  If my suburban vote is lost due to the population makeup of the region, I am screwed.  Districts would be re-evaluated and the typical Democratic approach would come into effect and somehow our region would get re0evaluated.

Drexel..Luckily Vandalia has a buffer with the Township.  Butler and Vandalia effectively are able to have the enforcement resources to make undesirable folks get in on Miller Ln. and get out.  You are going to have problems in any hotel strip near and interstate, but the residents in the area don’t have un upswing in violent or property crime because the of the commercial development.  While these areas have there quota’s of government housing, they aren’t going to be getting any more anytime soon.

These suburbs know that they need to keep the quality of live high because we have no problem packing our bags and moving to a surrounding county.  A suburban taxpayer isn’t going to sacrifice what they currently have for the region.  The city keeps sucking and sucking resources.   Dayton and Trotwood can’t survive on their own.  You all think that pooling resources is helping those that moved from these areas?  It isn’t.  ANd we aren’t going to suffer to support those that are victim of their own ignorance and poor allocation of elected officials.


Wow!  I think that the plan needs even bigger thinking. I opt to create a Dayton-Cincy region like Minneopolis-St, Paul and several other metro areas. Combining the assests of the two regions would save money, leverage assets and give us a much, much larger metro ranking both in the statehouse and in the nation.  Who cares nationally if Oakwood, Englewood, Trotwoods (the woods) combine? But connect Cincy and Dayton and you will make national news for sure!!

David Lauri

Minneapolis and St. Paul do not share a regional government.


Hey David,

First thank you for the Welcome. I too think that we are Dayton and should be proud of it, as I am. I just know that the name of such an entity would be a “hangup” with some individuals. I was not suggesting calling it Miami Valley or Montgomery alone, Metropolitan Dayton would be my choice. Interesting point on Greater Dayton, never thought of that angle, infering that there is a lesser Dayton. I was simply thinking of  objections and how to overcome them prior to them being presented.  I do believe a Metropolitan Government is our only way to compete on the National and global scale again. unfortunately many of our neighbors outside the city proper believe that they are immune to the fate of this region.  Few of them  understand that without the City, which they look down on, they would not exist as they do today and could not continue to exist without the support of the city residents.  They also fail to realize that once you leave our region they are Dayton anyway.