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The 912 Project-Nebraska Message Board › Senator Ashford seen at Airport to study the GROESSER STUDY CITY/COUNTY CON

Senator Ashford seen at Airport to study the GROESSER STUDY CITY/COUNTY CONSOLIDATION

Darlene E.
user 14539080
Omaha, NE
Post #: 280
Some of us are scratching our heads over the two politicians seen at Eppley Airport yesterday. Yes, Mayor Donald Groesser of Ralston and would-be Mayor of Omaha and State Senator Brad Ashford were seen together on their way to Kentucky to 'study' city/county consolidation..

Oops, does that mean a Mayor Ashford would be looking to not only combine Douglas County and Omaha but also include Ralston in an annexation or combination as well?

Someone, maybe a watchdog, should ask.....
Posted by Objective Conservativeat 2:31 PM
Labels: Brad Ashford, Mayor Donald Groesser, Nebraska State Senator Brad Ashford
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Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)
“The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.

Merging a hot topic among Kentucky counties and cities;

Call it the urge to merge. Thanks to a 2006 law and perhaps the distressed economy, public discussion about the unification of city and county governments is under way in more Kentucky communities now than ever before.
Several counties have either discussed mergers or are studying future mergers, mostly as ways to get leaner during economic turmoil. Some officials see it as a way to reduce costs; others are not sure mergers bring significant savings. Regardless, the topic remains hot.
On Aug. 8, Garrard County Fiscal Court voted unanimously for an ordinance that will create a commission to study the consolidation of the county and the city of Lancaster, or at least streamline certain services. A final reading and vote on the study ordinance is set for Aug. 22.
On Monday night, Estill County Fiscal Court is supposed to submit the names of 21 residents to study the unification of that county with the cities of Ravenna and Irvine.
On Tuesday night, members of Anderson County Fiscal Court and the Lawrenceburg City Council will sit down together to hear a merger proponent discuss the law that outlines a process for unification. Anderson Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said the fiscal court magistrates might vote that night to proceed with a merger study.
In late July, Scott County Fiscal Court and Georgetown City Council were encouraged by a local resident to look into merger, even though voters rejected the idea in a 1988 referendum.
Meanwhile, other unification efforts are under way in Hardin and McCracken counties. A similar effort is on hold in Spencer County as it awaits a ruling from the state Court of Appeals in a suit brought by Taylorsville against merger.
The flurry of discussion about city-county merger doesn't surprise Denny Nunnelley, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Counties.
Local governments are more dependent these days on payroll taxes paid by workers and occupational license fees paid by businesses. With fewer people working because of the sour economy, that puts a strain on the city and county budgets. That, in turn, puts pressure on elected officials to work as efficiently as possible, and that leads to public pleas to at least study either the consolidation of services — such as combining city police and sheriff's departments or consolidating city and county fire departments — or the outright merger of city and county governments.
"They're having to be prudent," Nunnelley said of elected officials.
Given this background, more residents and elected officials are talking openly about consolidation, Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard said. He chairs a governance subcommittee that looked into the possibility of merging Hardin County and its six incorporated cities.
"It is becoming more and more difficult in today's environment for smaller units of government to continue to provide services at a manageable tax rate," Howard said. "So I think the efficiencies that can often be gained from unification plays a part in that. The studies have shown that unified governments ... don't lower your taxes, but they keep them from escalating as high if you were not unified."
Don't count on savings
Selling the idea of a merger isn't easy. Some residents worry that a smaller, leaner government risks becoming a less-responsive one. And researchers have questioned whether a merger delivers significant savings.
"Academic studies of Jacksonville, Fla.'s combination with Duval County, and Miami's merger with Dade County found that costs actually rose post-merger as new bureaucracies emerged," The Wall Street Journal reported in June. The paper also cited a 2004 study by Indiana University's Center for Urban Policy and the Environment that found that costs creep back in because bigger pools of employees can negotiate for better wages, offsetting the savings of job cuts.
Foster Pettit, the last mayor of Lexington's old city government and the first under 1974's urban-county government, said he is careful to tell people interested in learning about mergers that a smaller budget doesn't necessarily come with consolidation.
"I have never said in my many talks to communities — and I've done it from Savannah, Ga., to Green Bay, Wis. — you're not going to have a smaller budget when you combine the two (city and county governments)," Pettit said. "What usually does happen is that the money you do have provides more and better services. When you consolidate, you will save money because you will use usually fewer people, but you get more bang for the buck. But I never say you're going to have a smaller budget."
Lexington and Louisville are the only merged city-county governments in Kentucky. Voters rejected merger proposals in Franklin and Scott counties in 1988, Daviess and Warren counties in 1990, Taylor County in 2002, and Franklin County again in 2004.
Under the state's 2006 unified-government law, the city and county equally bear the cost of a study committee. The judge-executive and the mayor jointly determine the size of this "unification review commission," which would have 20 to 40 members.
The law states that a unification plan "shall be completed" within two years of the commission's appointment. If a majority of the members are unable to agree on a plan for unification within two years, the commission dissolves.
If, on the other hand, the commission comes up with a plan, it would hold at least one public hearing — and probably more — to address questions from residents.
After its final public hearing, the commission would vote on the proposed plan and then submit it to voters. If the unification plan is rejected by voters, another vote could not be held for five years.
This is the type of path that Garrard and Hardin counties are following, and the same one that residents in Anderson and Scott counties have asked their elected officials to explore.
"All we're saying is, 'Give the public an opportunity.' Set up this commission, and let people look at it," Georgetown resident David Thompson said. "You're not voting for merger. You're voting for up to a two-year process of letting people in the community sit and talk about this. This new legislation offers the education into
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