Sunday, August 23, 2009

Times Have Changed

Proponents to consolidation want to keep bringing up the fact that this has been voted down twice by the voters. They fail to tell you that it was nearly forty years ago. And the first time it was voted on was ten years before that. A lot of things have changed since then. The only thing that hasn't changed is their arguments.

Today there was an article in the Commercial Appeal about what the small town mayors in Shelby county thought about consolidation. Since they are being allowed to keep their charters. With all due respect. Who cares what they think? This is and always has been the crust of their argument. Why do they want more to say about what happens outside their cities? Are they not happy with their county services now?

The six suburbs -- Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington -- would remain independent. But their elected leaders don't think that's enough. They anticipate their individual cities holding only a small voice in overall decisions by a larger metro commission.

Separate governments didn't make any sense then and they don't now. People are beginning to ask questions and it can no longer be swept under the carpet. Consolidation is an idea whose time has come. Times have changed.


Blogger Common said...

Shelby County Commission votes 'yes' on consolidation committee
By Daniel Connolly (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Monday, August 31, 2009

The Shelby County Commission voted Monday to spend $50,000 on a special commission to prepare a plan for consolidating Memphis and Shelby governments that would go before voters in November 2010.

The 9-2 vote means a charter commission could start its work later this year, if the Memphis City Council also approves the plan. The council is set to have its first discussion of the issue today.

Still unresolved is the question of who will serve on the charter commission. The county will appoint 10 members and the city will appoint five.

County Mayor A C Wharton has asked county commissioners to suggest names.

He will pick nominees from the submitted names and the County Commission will have a chance to vote them up or down. The names of nominees weren't available Monday, and Wharton said he hadn't made up his mind about the geographic makeup of the board.

Voting to create the charter commission were Henri E. Brooks, Mike Carpenter, Sidney Chism, Joe Ford, J.W. Gibson II, Matt Kuhn, Deidre Malone, Steve Mulroy and Mike Ritz.

Voting no were Joyce Avery and Wyatt Bunker, who represent suburban areas.

James Harvey was out of the room, and George Flinn was present but didn't cast a vote.

Voters rejected consolidation efforts in 1962 and 1971. Consolidation would require the approval of majorities of people living in Memphis and those living outside Memphis, including residents of the suburban cities.

Critics of consolidation have complained it would leave suburban cities with diminished power, that their taxes would rise and that the leadership of the combined government would waste money.

Avery, who represents a largely suburban district, said she's heard from constituents worried about consolidation. "They do not trust city government," she said.

Bunker, who represents the same suburban district, says it doesn't make sense to fund a charter commission if it doesn't include heavy representation from suburbs, where opposition is likely to be heaviest.

"I don't want to invest a dime in something that's doomed to failure," said Bunker, who said he's not necessarily against the plan.

Proponents of consolidation say that it will save money, make it easier to attract businesses and easier for citizens to get services. They say critics don't even know what they're against, since the charter commission doesn't exist yet and hasn't made a formal proposal.

"We should allow this baby to at least grow up to preschool age. Let's not strangle it in its crib," Mulroy said.

One item is clear: Under consolidation, there would be different tax rates for city residents and those in rural areas who are using different services.

Malone said it's too early to know what the tax rates would be.

1:03 AM  
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