Louisville’s FOX 41 Reports: Hardin County May Merge City Governments

The following article first appeared on Louisville News Channel, FOX 41 on November 12, 2010.  The full, original story is available here:  http://www.fox41.com/story/13493090/hardin-county-may-merge-city-governments?redirected=true.

HARDIN COUNTY, KY. (WDRB Fox 41) — Cities in Hardin County could join forces to create a unified government. A merger could give Hardin County more power in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.

The explosive growth at Fort Knox is causing government officials to take a closer look at how they operate. “This is a fast-growing community with everything that’s going on at Fort Knox.  The community leaders want to make sure that this county is positioned as advantageously as possible,” said Luke Schmidt, with the consulting firm L.B. Schmidt & Associates.

Community leaders want to capitalize on what Hardin County has to offer. Merging governments could make the county stand out. “What we say is, ‘Speak with one voice better’ with the folks in Frankfort and Washington when we go to them with ideas and needs for resources and those types of things,” says Judge-Executive Harry Berry.  He says the merger would not necessarily save money, but would bring efficiency to emergency services and government.

Through a federal grant, L.B. Schmidt & Associates will research all of the best options. In Hardin County, there are six main cities: Radcliff, Elizabethtown, Vine Grove, West Point, Sonora, and Upton. In the most extreme case, all six cities would merge with the county government. Schmidt will use cities like Louisville and Lexington as templates. “What we have to do is look at all these models, plus what we already have here and determine what is the best model for the future of this community,” said Schmidt.

But, after all the research, they could find that Hardin County may operate best as-is. “It could be that after looking into it,” said Barry, “is that the best thing is, is what we have and it could be that what we determine is we don’t want full-blown merged government but we might want to merge some of our (emergency) services.”

“That could be maintain the status quo,” said Schmidt, “could mean going all the way to a complete and total consolidation or something in between.”

The public will get to voice its opinion at several forums and vote on the recommendations, but a decision will not be made for several years.

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