The News-Enterprise: Can It Hurt to Talk About Something New

The following editorial appeared in The News-Enterprise on August 7, 2011.  The full, online version can be read here:

The issue: Unification proposal
Our view: Full participation is ideal

No one’s ever been injured by an idea.

At this point, the concept of unified government in Hardin County is nothing more than an idea.

The subject was raised by the 2010 Vision Project and has been discussed, debated and researched for more than 15 months by a panel of volunteers from Hardin County United’s governance subcommittee. As a group that organization has no power and certainly no authority to change the local form of government.

It has followed up on the idea and has some recommendations for the community to consider.

State law has created three methods for considering a joint city-county form of governance. One was written specifically to address circumstances in Jefferson County. The older urban county legislation for Fayette County also was bypassed in favor of a 2006 law that defines responsibility for drawing a detailed structure for operating the people’s business.

Basically, Hardin Countians would be entrusted to develop a unique system that best fits our unique community.

Participating city and county governments will be able to appoint and influence the people charged with researching and writing the charter which would direct operation of the new governmental method.

Cities that might choose not to participate will sit on their hands. How does that make the community better?

Meanwhile, residents of all communities will vote on any final charter proposal in Fiscal Court agrees to join the process.

Every Hardin Countian gets a voice in the formation of a new county government at the ballot box, even residents of individual cities in which council members fear ideas.

Residents of Radcliff, Elizabethtown, Vine Grove, Upton, West Point and Sonora deserve to have their current city leaders appointing representatives to the unification review commission. That is not an endorsement. It amounts to enabling legislation.

Vine Grove Mayor Blake Proffitt expressed it well when he told a room filled with community leaders that he owed it to constituents to do what’s best. That includes looking at proposals to consider their value.

Proffitt also promised to work to defeat government unification if he were not convinced that it was a better way of doing business. That’s appropriate too.

If things are going well, some would recommend standing pat. In our world of constant change, that’s never a true option. If you stand still, others pass you by. Advancement requires movement.

We live in a good community. The thing to ask ourselves: Could we live in a great community? That question deserves an answer.

There’s been some talk and a few reasonable recommendations to consider from Hardin County United. It’s too soon to consider unification but it’s time to endorse conversation.

Let’s embrace open-minded discourse. Talk about it, work through the process and then decide what could work.

Unlike some other cities that tout the benefits brought about by their merged governments, we are not motivated by a crisis. This community can consider moving forward from a position of strength, not a cry of desperation.

To work out what’s best for all, it would be best if all would work it out. Together.

When it comes time to consider establishment of a unification review commission to do the hard work of drafting a proposal for voters to consider, the ideal approach is all in.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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