Proponents to a consolidated City/County Government?

by September 11, 2007 • 2 comments

As written by one of our readers, Johnothan Jones:

The County Road 388 issues are a small example of the short sighted way the county government constantly approaches things. Commissioner Gainer typically is the worst of the county leadership when looking at things in a tasteful meaningful way to improve the county infrastructure. I have lived in here for 7 years and worked within the county government and seen the ill conceived short sighted approach to many problems and issues. Hwy 388 will be a main artery to the new airport and instead of embracing the things to come Commissioner Gainer and many others would rather pass the buck to someone else instead fulfilling the county’s responsibilities to it’s citizens. One issue that continually happens is the “ego” issues of the county and city politicians. When you have 8 municipalities and 5 are basically directly across the street from one another, how in the world can you get anything done in a efficient cost effective manner.

An example of this is by taking a look at 11th St, which is a main thoroughfare from Tyndall Parkway to St. Andrews. It crosses 3 different cities and none of which are willing to put the money up and work together to resurface, widen and make safer for the thousands of citizens that traverse that road on a daily basis. Hwy 390 is another perfect example of passing the buck and not thinking ahead until it’s too late. that road has needed to be 4-laned for at least 15 years, yet because of improper planning and the county/city governments not working together on a conceptive vision through planning and zoning of the county infrastructure it is still not 4-laned or even 6-laned (which was a state recommendation due to traffic counts in 2004) to bare the huge traffic numbers that strain it daily.

These are but a few examples of the main problems that will plague our community until we have the right leadership with vision and know how to get things done correctly. I and many others have felt a consolidated county/city government is the best remedy to push our county to the next level and get the results we need as a community. With a population of roughly 160,000 and growing daily the time is right to change the way we do things. With only 5 county commissioners controlling our future’s along with the fractured city governments in the middle, it’s time for a change in approach, mindset and vision for the changes coming to our area. In the 2002 elections there was a non-binding referendum on the ballot asking the citizens if they wanted a consolidated government and 68% vote “YES”. Most people don’t realize the positive effects this would make on our community as a whole. It would mean completely streamlining the tax codes for the county, consolidating fire and police services, which many people know in the smaller cities such as Cedar Grove and others is inadequate in most cases. The Planning and Zoning Departments would be consolidated so that everyone would be on the same page and not just throwing up whatever because the same guidelines would apply for everyone. It would mean constructive thought and consideration of our neighbors instead of the isolationism that often occurs. Currently the county has just 4 Code Enforcement officers for the whole county entrusted to clean up the numerous rundown properties, which include many dilapidated mobile home and housing areas that get overlooked because traversing the mountain to get things changed seems out of reach in most cases. With consolidation, Code Enforcement could actually make a difference with more resources and officers out on the streets making sure property owners are maintaining their properties in a respectful and acceptable manner.

Most opponents of the consolidation approach use the fear tactic that the little guy won’t have a voice with the county politicians like they do with their city leaders. This would be completely the opposite due to the fact the county commission would be expanded to probably a 9 seat board and many of the city and county department heads would be integrated into the revamped/streamlined agencies that oversee the road department, planning and zoning and code enforcement to name a few. The difference would be everyone working from the same rule book, on the same team and with common goals working for the betterment of the citizens as a whole.

Regardless of what some think, we are all in this together as a county and for the individualists that want to maintain their “Big Fish in a Little Pond” approach, it’s just not going to work in the long term. The impact of the new airport is going to significantly change our county regardless and sticking our heads in the sand and continually doing things as they’ve been done is just not going to work. The increase of population, expectations of the voters and just plain decency of doing something meaningful for the betterment of the county we live in demands a change in current mindset. Given the tight hold the county power brokers wield the best and most effective way to get the changes made is to facilitate a “Binding” referendum on the ballots forcing the county to make these changes.

Thank you for this outlet to voice concerns and discuss options for our area.

Best Regards,
Johnothan Jones

What do you think about this? Do you think this would work for our area? It sure sounds like it would simplify of local governments.

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