Press Release: Hardin County Public Library Board of Trustees Endorses the Establishment of the Unification Review Commission

Group is the First to Consider and Support Resolution

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (August 12, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Hardin County Public Library Board of Trustees has approved a resolution which calls for the establishment of the Unification Review Commission to develop a plan for unified government in Hardin County.

“The Library’s Board of Trustees believes that it is important for the citizens of the community to fully understand how unified government might work in Hardin County,” said Rene Hutcheson, Hardin County Public Library Director.

“The only way that this can happen,” Hutcheson continued, “is for the local government entities to pass the ordinance which will establish the Commission. Only then will we know what form unified government might take in Hardin County, and then the voters will be able to make a truly informed decision as to whether or not unified government is the correct pathway for Hardin County’s future.”

Under Kentucky law, local governments can unify under the Unified Local Government concept by combining county government with one or more participating city governments. Participation is optional and in order for a local government entity to potentially participate in unified government it must first pass an ordinance which establishes a Unification Review Commission.

Once established, the Commission, which will consist of between 20 and 40 citizens appointed by the participating government bodies, will draft a unified government plan which will be presented to the voters for final approval.

“It’s important to note that even if Hardin Fiscal Court or any of the city councils approve the ordinance to create the Commission that it does not mean the merger will occur, or that any of the government bodies are approving merger,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “Establishing the Commission simply creates the platform to study and draft a plan for unified government. Ultimately, the voters have the only (and final) say as to whether the community will unify.”

HCU believes that there are four primary benefits to be gained with unified government, including:

The ability for the community to speak with one voice and more efficiently target grants and appropriations which will benefit the entire community while improving the community’s standing and stature in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.,

The attainment of a new level of clout that will assist the entire community with economic development, the creation of new jobs and which will create Kentucky’s third largest community,

Streamlined government which will result in the more efficient delivery of government services to all citizens, and,

The achievement of economies of scale which will result in the more efficient use of public resources (tax dollars)

Hardin Circuit Judge Ken Howard, who also serves as the HCU Governance Subcommittee Chairperson, praised the action taken by the Hardin County Public Library Board of Trustees. “The Library Board of Trustees has shown real leadership by taking this historic first step towards the development of a unified government plan, said Howard. “The primary function for a library is to serve as the community’s source of information. In this case, the Board of Trustees has recognized the important role that the Unification Review Commission will play in not only creating the unified government plan, but also informing the citizens about how all of this will work and what the benefits will be.”

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Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. 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. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

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