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And we are the national educational radio network presents special of the week. This is the last of the 7 1/2 hour radio documentary programs on Metropolitan Government prepared for broadcast by the capital cities broadcast station in Detroit WJR. The producer and narrator is Oscar for Annette WJR news. The title for this series is is there a better way. Good evening this is metropolitan government. Metropolitan Government the seventh in a series of special reports on local government reorganisation seeking answers to the question is there a better way.
Metropolitan has become a household word. Airports hospitals hotels authorities transit systems all bear the name Metro. But when applied to a form of government the word takes on a different meaning. What do you think of metropolitan government. One solution to urban problems is to establish a metropolitan government with sufficient authority and money to provide services for the total urban area. Efforts to form metropolitan governments in this country have a history of failure dating back to the 20s. However there are a few experiments in operation. There has been a trend encouraged by the federal government toward regional thinking in terms of planning and services. Most urban areas have steered clear of any push toward Metropolitan Government however most have followed the pattern set in Detroit in southeast Michigan and set up a loose voluntary Federation of local units of government called a Council of Governments a form where regional problems can be
tackled on a cooperative basis. Some say a Council of Governments can be an effective alternative to a Metro government. Others say it's the first step towards it and yet others view it as a scheme to keep Negroes from gaining control of the central cities. The previous report in this series looked at the southeast Michigan Council of Governments. Now let's look at Metropolitan Government not an academic discussion of the pros and cons but talking with people actually involved in the experiment. First let's talk about Dade County Florida. Porter Homer is manager of Dade County which is not the only Metropolitan Government of the United States but well it's the first one with actually today it's one of three. You have the experience in Nashville of Davidson County. And just about two weeks ago down Florida again the city of Jacksonville and the county of Duval. Consolidated.
And in fact became the country's largest city geographically speaking. They have a now a city of some seven hundred eighty five square miles. There has been some argument whether Dade County has a real metropolitan government. Well I think it's part of government because what they have done. Is to write into the state constitution very strong home powers. Which in effect makes the Board of County Commissioners which is our county legislative body. A little state legislature for Dade County. As an example. There they are able and have set up. The utilities regulations commission for private utilities gas companies run a company sewer companies. So they can be controlled and regulated in the public interest. This is normally something done by a state. But in this case Dade County is doing it for
itself. How come Dade County went to a Metro form of government where I think you'd have to understand Dade County cover some twenty three hundred square miles it's actually larger than the state of Rhode Island. And it has a population of about a million and a half people. What brought about the formation of metropolitan government was the. Frustration and inability of the existing governments in the area. To solve their problems particularly those of an area wide concern. They could not look to the traditional city government to solve it because the area had been hacked up into. Numerous small competing. Powers so that you couldn't have an annexation program for instance it would pull the area together. There are in Dade County some Twenty seven minutes. Ranging from in population from. The lowest one is about 30. Which
is almost not a city. To the City of Miami which is certainly a city with over 300000 population. But you have all sorts of inner jurisdictional problems on this so they then turn to the county. Unfortunately it covered a large enough geographic area so it could be a meaningful area. And they got the state constitution amended. To give it the give the county the traditional powers of a city and to be able to conduct its own affairs. I asked the county manager Porter Homer where the push to Metro came from. Well this came about from a number of diverse sources. The city of Miami itself has a circle of course that he was keenly interested in this because they were carrying many of the burdens of the whole area. As a lot of the central core cities do. There were some newspapers that pushed very hard on this with some good civic leadership. That worked to stream the
hard at this. And they worked with some members of the state legislature who got the matter pushed through the state legislature and onto the statewide ballot. As an amendment to the state constitution that then was voted. Through by the all the people of the state of Florida. This is how it came about but basically. Rather than coming about as a reform from crime and corruption and so on and so forth it came about as a reform from frustration and inability to cope with governmental problems because of the existing multiplicity of governmental jurisdictions in the area. The Dade County manager explains that the structure of the new government. Basically what we have nine members of the Board of County Commissioners. You're all elected simultaneously for four year term this. And they were elected on a county wide basis rather than by districts. And they are the legislative body for the county.
Government. And then they appoint a county manager. To present time myself. County managers serves at the pleasure of the con commission can be. Discharged any time. A majority of them want to discharge and. They don't have to have cause a reason they might decide they don't like the way parch is here. And I think it has to be that way. Because they do best great powers in the position. And ought to offset it. Keep the individual within bounds he has to know that he can be cashiered at any given moment if he goes too far and I think it's it has to have that feature and the big question of course is does it work. I think making headway towards a solution of some of the important problems we used to have a situation where there were. Different traffic regulations in each of the different cities and there were different types
of traffic signs and. There were jurisdictional squabbles as to whether the accident that occurred at this intersection was in this city or that city. So on and so forth. We now have county wide traffic engineering. And county wide traffic planning county wide. Maintenance of arterial street system. We have county wide planning for the area. We handle urban Reno County wide places. One of the things that this kind of government does is to more equitably spread the costs of government and it doesn't impose on the central city the great burdens of. Providing the costs attendant would be in the central city with much of which is for the benefit of people who live in the suburbs but spreads those kinds of costs. This is not to say that the are no problems. There are. More problems outstanding and have not been solved.
I think the point thing is that we are making progress. We are. Moving actively on the important problems of an area wide nature. It was in 1956 that voters in Florida approved a constitutional amendment providing a home rule for Dade County. And in 1957 the voters of Dade County approved a new charter. Some six years later in 1962 the citizens of the city of Nashville and the citizens of the remaining portions of Davidson County of which Nashville was a part separately approved a charter providing for the consolidation of the city and county governments into a single metropolitan government. The result was different from that of Dade County Dade County they can be called an urban county approach whereby the county government is streamlined and updated and takes over some functions of the municipalities but does not replace existing local units of government. The Nashville Davidson County approach is consolidation of the total county
area with all functions of local government including education transferred to the new unit. A third approach is by way of a federation of local units into a central body. Much the way the 50 states form the federal system of government with a division of authority between local and Metro government. This is what happened in Toronto Ontario Canada. The relationship between cities and states varies from state to state in this country and the same is true in Canada. In Ontario the city or municipality is going to sit in a sense the child of the problems and there is no provision for a referendum vote to bring about a change in the structure of local government. Indeed even development of a new subdivision requires approval of the provincial government. So the Toronto example is used not so much as an example that might be followed in the United States but it's interesting to see how it works. I spoke with the deputy Deputy Commissioner of planning for metropolitan Toronto our John bower.
The need for either extension of the city of Toronto by Malcolm ation or some Federation was seen in the back 1949 by citizens groups and municipalities as a result of different applications that came from different municipalities some for amalgamation and some for a pharma Federation. The government set up a commission to investigate the situation. That was. Headed by the Chairman of what we have an Ontario Municipal Board which is appointed by the province to look into this type of matter and other matters. The province of Ontario decided against amalgamation into one large municipality. Instead it created a federation of local units of government with respect to the responsibilities of a metropolitan corporation. First of all these were defined very precisely in the legislation. When Metro was created by the province we were given responsibility for the
distribution of water in bulk taking it from the lake purifying it passing it through transporting mange. But then we only sell it in bulk to local municipalities who distribute it through the local system and actually collect the water rates from the individuals. Were wholesaling water in effect with sewage. We collected in a trunk system from the local municipalities and through their local distribution system and we treat the sewage at major sewage treatment plants on the lake age so we close down all the small plants that existed on our river system so that we can improve the quality. Water end of our recreation system. Now with respect to roads as I mentioned it's basically the arterial road system and the expressway system so always we're dealing with the main arteries and the smaller veins of the local responsibility. Now on education we're
only responsible for the issuing of debentures In other words the financial control and the control over the total planning of school building and development. But the local municipalities are responsible for the education system within those schools and the actual building and carrying out of the work. I was I was just overseeing the total expenditure and perhaps I should mention one of the key responsibilities of metropolitan triangle one of the reasons it really came about that is that we issue all debentures for Metro works and for local works each local municipality comes to Metro. When it wants to borrow money. So we're borrowing as a single agency for all the requirements of the area. Now when I say this was a major region reason for the creation of Metro. The problem that existed was that the city of Toronto
had all the assessment but no land. The suburban areas had all the land and no money. And your realized the importance of assessment when you appreciate that 70 percent of our revenue has to come from property taxes. So if you had no property you had no money you couldn't afford to promote development. So I think the federal system was really forced in this respect. Unless you go to the special purpose areas that you have for various services in the state. The problems facing Toronto in the late 40s and early 50s were similar to those faced by American cities. It's what might be called a crisis of services rapid population growth without sufficient planning leading to communities without sufficient tax base to provide vital services. Mushroom development having to rely on well water and septic tanks and the multiplication of efforts in areas of education public safety transportation and roadways as well as recreation and welfare.
Officials in Toronto agree that if the referendum vote had been required it's doubtful that Metro government would have happened at any rate the Federation of municipalities was the first phase. Then in the late 50s Hurricane Hazel brought more than devastation to the city of Toronto in its wake it left the start of plans for a metropolitan police force and a much improved system of drainage and Recreation crises are often necessary it seems to awaken people to the needs of a community. The second step in reorganizing government in Toronto was taken in 1967. This made the urban area in just six boroughs and brought some changes and assessment. When the Metropolitan corporation was originally created the only. Part of the financial burden borne by the Metropolitan corporation was that we passed on a per capita basis the provincial grant for education and
the balance of school costs had to be met by each individual municipality. This meant the poorer municipalities had a greater burden for school costs of poorer in terms of assessment and those rich in industry of course had less burden to bear for schools because of the taxes they were getting from industrial development. This led to some unfortunate features in that some municipalities were trying to keep out a low income housing to maintain their assessment. They were trying to keep out the type of dwelling which would give rise to a large number of children. There keeping at the row houses the Garden Court Apartments the family type units they were avoiding semi-detached areas in case of Gayton children. This problem was very quickly realized and when the amendments were made to the Metropolitan Act which took effect the beginning of 1967 provision was made that all school costs would be borne by an equal light a levy on all
municipalities. Though the six boroughs that make up the Metropolitan Toronto operate on a split level type of government with the same elected representatives responsible at both levels providing a constant liaison and Mrs. Elizabeth Nielsen was mayor of the suburb of Lee's side before Metro. She explains the make up of the Metropolitan Council. The members the people who make up the Metropolitan Council are there because they are all elected to their own council. And that's because the specific office they hold at local council level. The mayor is automatically the bards a control that they had by virtue of that office. They are a member of the Metropolitan house. So they have two very big responsibilities. They have a responsibility to the people
in their own municipality in those areas which are still under the jurisdiction of the local municipality and they have a much broader. And just as important responsibility to all of people in metropolitan triangle by virtue of their being a member of the Metropolitan Council. Mrs Nielsen who works with the Metropolitan Government instead of being mayor of a suburb agrees that the big change was in education. The one thing that has made the big change is effective in January 67. Does any school tax write offs for the first time. One of the major reasons metoo Metro was a step in the first place was the inability of certain municipalities to finance on a local basis anymore and one of their bigger biggest cost problem here was to provide adequate
education. And certainly there was a feeling of that I think every elected person in Metro has accepted for a long time there had to at least be equality of opportunity for every child who lives in metropolitan drawable. But the first step didn't quite accomplish this because you were there were still have and have not municipalities with the funds that were available of them to to supply the number of new schools in our larger suburban areas that were still either taking initial development and in the city and the inner core which was the city New York and New York monies to renovate or to tear down and build new schools these were year old of schools work and this is why it was necessary and I don't think any of them in this valley scribbled above this one the problem said this is going to occur on effect in the 60s. Given the school dollar hospital
provides the schools now wherever you are you still stand the requests for new schools or renovation still it's close to my full board and the process is slightly different now. But you're not and no one municipality has to depend on their school tax dollar now to ensure they get the schools and this is good. The people of Toronto are no different from people than any other urban area. They were apprehensive of the big change in local government. As I mentioned Mrs. Nielsen was mayor of a wealthy suburb a proud community of some 25000 population. She talked about the people's reaction. Well they weren't happy. I think the majority municipalities matter to work happy as individual people. When I told this established in the first place. But it's been eminently
successful and they certainly were I think were even less happy when they lost their identity as a town because we've been rather unexceptional town we had very high standards of service and yet we were able to maintain the lowest tax rate no metropolitan area. Course we had a wonderful ratio between industrial residential Sest. And good it made us face it. I asked Mrs. Nielsen about her own personal reaction. I felt very badly just as Elise sighed that we didn't have our own municipality we had nothing that we could identify with as a municipal entity any longer. But then there is the pride that comes with being part of a pioneering effort. We have people at every level of government coming from all over the world to study and sometimes for weeks at a time as we have priced
off reach of all government the chaotic condition of urban areas is attributed to the lack of overall planning for growth and development. It's generally agreed that problems of transportation sprawl ugliness housing pollution education taxation are so closely interrelated that what is needed is a systems approach to the total urban area. The deputy commissioner of planning for metropolitan Toronto John Bower says such a system is developing. He talked about the Toronto plan. Well we consider it to be a 1980 plan at the present time. It would actually theoretically accommodate growth up until about 1990 1995. But we think it is practical to consider this plan up to 1980. It's only been tested with respect to the transportation facilities up to that year. Now we're already going into the next phase I'm working towards 2000 plan.
The city of Toronto differs from most American cities and one important aspect the city ends abruptly. You have a reasonably high density build up area and then suddenly open fields and you're outside the city. This emphasizes the fact that to control the growth within a given urban area there must also be control of the land use beyond that. As I said the most important thing that they did in the plan was define an urban limit and then set about with a capital works program and a planned program of the extension of services road improvements road widening the basic fabric to promote growth. But to run along with this we had to have. Control of the area outside our defined urban limit to see that development didn't Plague take place which would by default urbanites the area and create a demand for services. Now I think in this area we have to be thankful for the fact that the province has exercised very strict control over the area
outside the metro Corp limits as it does all over the province in that it will not permit subdivision to take place without There is a definite plan as to what is the community to which this development is attached and that it has the full services in Michigan of course there is no such state control of urban growth and development in the Detroit area Metropolitan Government is considered politically unfeasible. Some services such as water and to some extent recreation and perhaps in the future transportation may be handled on a metropolitan basis and there is a regional planning group as part of the Council of Governments. But Detroit mayor Jerome Kavanagh says an overall Metro government is not likely. Some of our friends and neighbors that live in the metropolitan area are interested in sharing. In the physical services on a metropolitan basis but they're not interested in dealing with the social problems on a metropolitan basis.
As mayor Meyer of Milwaukee says to some that bond cooperation means give us your water and treat our sewerage and keep your negroes and social problems in the central city. That's his view of it and I think it's applicable to at least some people in every metropolitan area in the country. Change may be inevitable but it is not always welcome. We fear the unknown and we cling to the familiar. Familiar name Thomas Jefferson. I have some words that fit here that the words are inscribed on the wall inside the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.. I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind as that becomes more developed more enlightened as new discoveries are
made new truths discovered and manners and opinions change. With change of circumstances institutions whose must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. Is there a better way. A series of seven half hour reports on local government reorganisation was presented as a public service by WJR news. This is Oscar from WJR do you have. Any RS special of the week. Thanks the capital cities broadcast station and Detroit WJR for the recordings of these seven documentaries. This is Emily are of the national educational radio network.
Series
Special of the week
Episode
Issue 13-1969
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/500-wh2ddb2d
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Date
1969-03-07
Topics
Public Affairs
Media type
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Duration
00:28:21
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-SPWK-415 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:07
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Citations
Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 13-1969,” 1969-03-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb2d.
MLA: “Special of the week; Issue 13-1969.” 1969-03-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb2d>.
APA: Special of the week; Issue 13-1969. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb2d