The twentieth century was characterised by the many municipal merges, which caused a strong reduction in the number of municipalities.
In the Netherlands the national government hands over certain tasks and authority to municipalities. This process started in 1986, and the goal was to give the municipalities more freedom and responsibilities. It was thought that many smaller municipalities could not handle the responsibilities, or not to the full extent. Therefore the idea was to regroup them into bigger municipalities. The expectations were that bigger municipalities can work more professional and businesslike.
In a recent news article it is stated that fusing municipalities does not produce the expected financial gains. On the contrary, after a fusion municipalities spend even more money, as is claimed by researchers from the University of Groningen.
The last years we have built a large deficit, and cuts in the budgets can be found in almost any sector. However, the prime-minister Rutte claimed that merging municipalities yields substantial savings. Research shows that from the municipalities that have been merged, without exceptions, every new municipality cost more than the municipalities of which the new one arose.
Prior to the fusion municipalities spend more money to make the proper adjustments, after which the expenses drop to their normal level. However, after a few years the expenses rise structurally, says researcher Maarten Allers.
In the period 2001 to 2012, 197 municipalities have been regrouped into 75 new municipalities. The goal of the prime-minister was to regroup all municipalities such that each municipality has at least 100.000 inhabitants. In the current situation that means that over 95% of the municipalities would have to merge.
This number increased steadily over the last decades. In the beginning of the eighties the directions preferred 5.000 inhabitants, whereas at the end of the nineties the national government strives for 25.000 inhabitants per municipality.
This year we went from 412 to 418 municipalities. For 2013 there are three regroupings scheduled involving 10 municipalities. The municipalities Graafstroom, Liesveld, en Nieuw-Lekkerland already share the same town hall. For 2014 and 2015 there are also fusions in the making. If the plans continue for these so-called giant-municipalities, we end up with only 200 municipalities. I hope for the sake of my quest that this will not be implemented on short notice.