Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Council Delays Consolidation Vote

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 2:07 PM

The City Council delayed voting for at least two weeks on a resolution to set a new Charter Commission for the purpose of creating a metro government.

"I'm in favor of consolidation," said councilman Jim Strickland, "but I'm not convinced that next year is the right time to move forward."

Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery gave a presentation to the council's executive committee that cited population loss, brain drain, economic development, and duplication in services as reasons why the two governments should merge.

"Dual-headed government is a broken business model," he said.

Under a draft of a proposal, the two school systems would be kept separate, fire services and law enforcement would be consolidated, and the smaller municipalities would be given a choice whether to be included.

"The consensus of the listening tour showed that the new charter should start with a blank slate," Lowery said. "As we move toward one government, it will be simpler, more understandable, and more responsive."

Council member expressed concern that they had been left out of the process, and and that a blank slate could just as easily be a bad thing as a good one.

"The big question for a lot of people I've talked to is, 'yeah, it's a good idea but it's never going to pass.' How is it going to pass?" asked council member Shea Flinn.

Yesterday, the Shelby County Commission approved $50,000 in funding for a joint consolidation commission.

"It's never going to be a good time," Lowery said, "so why not now? We've wasted so many years."

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