Georgia Legislature takes up county consolidation

The Georgia Legislature has taken up the subject of consolidating its 159 (way too many) counties.

While I doubt anything will happen this year, I think they will be forced to shed counties in the medium term.

To compare:

Florida, much larger population - 67 counties
Alabama - 67 counties
Pennsylvania - 67 counties
North Carolina, roughly the same population, 100 counties

Only Texas has more counties at 254.

California makes do with 58.

Population decline in rural counties has forced the Georgia Legislature to take action.

72 counties in Georgia are under 20,000 in population. Simply requiring these small counties to merge with each other or with larger counties until all counties are above 20,000 in population would go along way to solving this issue. 87 counties would remain, still too many, but at least reasonable and the counties would have a sufficient tax base to operate efficiently.

It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Interestingly, the reason for having so many counties was supposedly a farmer on a horse could make it to the county seat and back in a day. :rofl:

I don’t think that is a consideration anymore. :smile:

with the price of gas, it may be again…

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Well. I can honestly say I have never thought about this before.

What is the problem with having too many counties?

The main problem is simple inefficiency. Many of those counties have less than 20,000 people, no significant industry. Many don’t even have a Walmart.

Government can and should be scaled up for efficiency.

EDIT: Meant to put 20,000 rather than 3,000, fixed.

Off the top of my head I’d say tax base to support the functions of government. Such as:

  • Maintenance of county roads,
  • Election infrastructure,
  • Schools,
  • Law Enforcement,
  • Maintaining County Offices,
  • Duplication in staff for required positions where if counties are consolidated the total number of staff can be reduced,
  • Reduction in duplication and staffing for various licensing aspects (marriage, pets, hunting/fishing, etc.)
  • Maintenance of vital records (deeds, titles, births, deaths, etc.)
  • Gained efficiency in such things as tax assessments and the evaluation of property,
  • Improved efficiency in such aspects as zoning,
  • Consolidation of waste disposal, sewer, water, etc.

Basically I can see savings. Not that “worker” jobs would be eliminated on a large scale, but the reduction in redundant supervisory, management, and elected positions.

Just a couple of things off the top of my head.


That is what has confounded attempts to consolidate in the past. All these Sheriffs and other elected bozos that don’t want to give up their fiefdoms in favor of the greater good of consolidation.

This is also why you see abusive speed traps in rural areas, both municipalities and counties. Georgia has its share of abusive speed traps.

Speeding tickets are easy revenue for rural areas with no tax base.

Consolidate your counties and you remove the incentive for speed traps.

The table of counties at the link is sortable, including by population. You can see the large number of tiny counties.

and 92 of texas’s counties have less thna 10 k people. loving county has a population of 64

I just have to chuckle at this. Why?
County I live in just hit 21,000 population.
County to the south of me has a population of roughly 2,000
County to the east of that one has a population of 3,000
County directly south of those two has a population of 5,000.
So to get your 20k population you’d have to combine those three counties . . .
Now for the area they cover . . . same order as above starting with the county I’m in, then the other three in order. My county: 1,918 square miles. South county: 766 squre miles. One east of that: 2,486 squre miles. South of those two: 5,083 squre miles.
Consolidation here just wouldn’t work . . . . the four counties take up almost a quarter of the entire state. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Just to answer this particular question, why, at the moment.

Consolidation would occur for the EXACT same reason that smaller companies merge into larger entities.

Economies of scale

Very small counties are inefficient. They may not require all that many worker bees, but must still have the full complement of elected officials and a certain amount of bureaucracy.

Even a modest consolidation improves efficiency by introducing an economy of scale. Most likely, all the worker bees will keep their jobs. But there will be only 1 set of elected officials, instead of 3 or 4 or more, and a consolidated bureaucracy that will be considerably smaller than the multiple bureaucracies it replaces.

Ultimately, providing some modest tax relief for the people that have to support all the above.

If you want to know why, just ask the private sector. :smile: The concept can work exactly the same for counties.

Texas has some craziness going on. :smile: Just in the northern panhandle, you could combine some of those small squares into larger squares. :smile:

I don’t think he was suggesting that for all states but Georgia is 25,000 sq. miles smaller than Utah and has 130 more counties.

Very true.

And I would obviously NOT call for consolidation in Utah, which has circumstances completely different from Georgia.

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Government neither becomes less expensive nor more efficient as it grows.


Heaven forbid government be less centralized and more accountable to it’s constituents


Cast the ability to govern closer to the governed and it becomes incrementally harder to find enough people who don’t know you’re BS for what it and who you are.

That was part of the beauty of appointment of Senators … it’s easy to fool enough of a state full of voters to get elected but pulling the wool over the eyes of your peers who actually know you well is more difficult.


Why is it an issue?

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And end up with a Harris or Dallas County? Pass.

I once heard a place described as where folks living in the boonies call the sticks.

I thought: that sounds nice!