With Puerto Rico carrying $72 billion in debt, and an independent, federally appointed control board poised to take charge of its finances, the island’s 78 municipalities — with their mayors, employees and government offices — represent one of the island’s most intractable problems, The New York Times reported today. What was once a venerable tradition has become a symbol of government bloat and deficit spending. There are renewed calls to do away with a sizable number of municipalities, most of which are ailing financially, by folding smaller ones into larger ones and creating regional hubs. The debate pivots on a simple question: Does an island with a footprint slightly bigger than Delaware’s really need 78 municipalities to serve its citizens? Each municipality has a mayor, many of them well paid. Then there are assistants and a string of administrative offices. Most also have their own municipal police (in addition to the state police), who deal with complaints and low-level crimes. With jobs hard to find in Puerto Rico, smaller municipalities are often the biggest employers in town.