The News-Enterprise: Unification Supporters to Approach More Organizations

One group already backs first step — forming commission

The following article by Amber Coulter first appeared in The News-Enterprise on August 14, 2011. The full, online version can be seen here:

More residents and civic organizations will be asked to support a proposal to form a commission that would draft a plan for a unified county government.

Hardin County United on Friday announced its first formal support from a community organization for forming a unification review commission. The Hardin County Public Library Board of Trustees approved a resolution Thursday calling for its establishment.

If formed, the commission would develop a plan for a unified government to be presented to voters in November 2012.

The commission would consist of 20 to 40 local residents appointed by participating governmental bodies.

Luke Schmidt, a consultant who completed a study about forming a unified government, said receiving the library board’s support is terrific because it is the first group to formally take up the issue.

“That’s a great start out of the blocks for the library board, for Hardin County United and for the effort that we’re supporting,” he said.

Library Director Rene Hutcheson said the board supports forming the commission, not necessarily forming a unified government.

“They’re in favor of letting the process unfold,” she said.

Hutcheson said board members think it’s important for residents to understand what unification would mean, and that only can happen if local governments approve ordinances to establish the commission.

“Only then will we know what form united 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,” Hutcheson said.

Schmidt said Hardin County United’s volunteer members plan to approach civic groups and host neighborhood forums to answer questions, talk about forming a commission and ask community members to voice support to local government officials.

Vine Grove City Council member Garry McCoy and Radcliff City Council members have said they don’t support forming a unified government. Council approval is necessary for any city to become part of unification discussions.

Hardin County United has made a presentation to the Hardin County Farm Bureau. The organization might take time getting through its decision-making process to voice its stance, Schmidt said.

Hardin County United has identified other organizations to approach, but so far only has made official plans to speak with the A.M. Rotary Club in Elizabethtown, he said.

“There’s no question there’s a lot of interest in this right now, and the best thing that Hardin County United can do is inform people and explain why it’s important to form a commission,” he said.

Forming a plan for unified government will answer a lot of voters’ questions about the impact that unified government would have on them, Schmidt said.

The process would be transparent and allow residents to talk about what’s important to them in a government. It also would allow them to think about if local governments are as efficient as possible, he said.

Schmidt said Hardin County United hopes for support from all city councils in the county and Hardin Fiscal Court. Presentation of the proposed ordinance for county government is scheduled for an Aug. 23 Fiscal Court meeting.

Garnering support for a commission likely will be easier than finding support for unification because it doesn’t require a commitment to consolidate, he said.

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  1. HHIS I should have thoghut of that!

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