Hardin County United Launches Consolidated Government Study

Project Will Examine Options for Community’s Future

Elizabethtown, Kentucky – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced its first formal project which will include a study of consolidated government and its potential for the Greater Hardin County community.

The study of consolidated government options for Hardin County follows-up on one of the principal themes from the previously concluded Hardin County Vision Project which calls for a unification of purpose for the community by streamlining areas where duplication now exists and more importantly beginning to speak with one voice.

Hardin County United Chairperson Harry Berry, speaking on behalf of the organization, commented:

“The results of the Vision Project clearly indicate a preference for exploring opportunities to consolidate various facets of the community for the purpose of improving the efficiency of the delivery of government services.  The success of One Knox in securing state funds to facilitate the expansion of the community’s infrastructure to accommodate the growth at Fort Knox shows how important it is for the Hardin County community to speak with one voice.  This study will illustrate how this concept might be formalized to the benefit of the entire community.”

Hardin County United’s Governance Subcommittee will oversee the project.  HCU Governance Subcommittee Chairperson Ken Howard has challenged the Subcommittee’s members to view this project much like the early settlers who arrived in the Massachusetts colony on the Mayflower.  Specifically, if 100,000 residents (with more on the way) arrived on the shores of the Nolin and Ohio Rivers today at the doorstep of what is Hardin County – without the existing jurisdictional boundaries in place – how would these 100,000 residents choose to govern themselves?

“This project provides an outstanding opportunity to examine the future of Hardin County from a governance perspective, “said Howard.  “The Subcommittee will look at various types of consolidated government structures which are in use today – both inside and outside of Kentucky.  The Subcommittee will formulate a recommendation for the community which may result in a new consolidated structure or simply maintain the status quo.”

“The goal is to determine whether Hardin County would be better served by consolidation in terms of speaking with one voice as a community in Frankfort and Washington, D.C., improving the efficiency of delivery of various government services, and eliminating duplication of effort,” commented Howard.

Louisville-based consulting firm L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC has been retained to conduct the study (which is being funded through a grant from the United States Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment and which is being administered by the Lincoln Trail Area Development District).  Luke Schmidt will serve as the project’s consultant.  Schmidt also served as the consultant for the Hardin County Vision Project on behalf of Hardin County Government and is also working with the Elizabethtown Airport Board to secure passenger airline service at the Elizabethtown Regional Airport.

“This project will cover a lot of territory,” said Schmidt.  “The project has the potential to provide a recommendation which can take the Greater Hardin County community to the next level in terms of governance and future economic development growth opportunities,” commented Schmidt.

The project will begin with an examination of existing government structures in Hardin County – including county government and the six municipal governments.  This examination will provide a baseline.

The next step will be to identify the types of consolidated government structures that are in use today and an examination of several existing consolidated government communities (such as Athens/Clarke County, Georgia; Augusta/Richmond County, Georgia; Columbus/Muscogee County, Georgia; Lexington/Fayette County, Kentucky; Louisville Metro, Kentucky; and, Nashville/Davidson County, Tennessee).

Additional project components include:

  • Facilitate a series of community forums for the purpose of presenting project findings to date, soliciting input from community members, etc.
  • Determine what is legally required in Kentucky to allow the consolidation of government in Hardin County
  • Conduct interviews with chief elected officials and key government staff members from the various existing jurisdictions for the purpose of soliciting their views on what works best and what they would like to see in terms of government structure in the future
  • Conduct interviews with key community leaders from each existing government jurisdiction for the purpose of soliciting their views on what they would like to see in terms of government structure in the future

“As this project moves forward, we will not lose sight of the good work that is being done every day in the existing government jurisdictions,” said Schmidt. “The question is how can we improve upon the existing structure?”

Hardin County United’s recommendation to the community will be presented in the spring of 2011.

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project.  The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies.  HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee.

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