Unified Government again...??
Posted in the Science Hill Forum
#1 Jan 21, 2014
Are we really back on this subject again? The only government interested in this is county government, they are the ONLY group who benefits. It's rather pathetic how some utilize groups and arenas to spread their propaganda. None of the cities are willing to participate in this venture to effectively take away the cities ability to govern themselves, and quite honestly can you blame them? It's also rather sad that the same reporter at the newspaper is doing their press releases for them. As for me, I will never vote for any form of unified government which gives county government majority control. We have TOO many issues with county officials already and we want to give them more authority and allow them to represent a greater number of people? I live in the county and personally I want new county officials, not give the current total control over the county and cities. It's time to stick a fork in it.
#2 Jan 21, 2014
This shows how little some know about the Unified Government exploratory process. It's not a question of being "back on this subject again," it about the next step in a very long process. From the beginning, it was made clear that the first step was a study that would take months to complete. The study provides a baseline review of what we currently have here in Pulaski County, what other Unified Governments look like and what is possible for PC. It does not advocate for or against anything. As explained in today's CJ, there is going to be a town hall style meeting at the Center on Thursday to present the findings of the study and to talk about possible next steps, if in fact further movement is warranted/possible.
As for me, I believe it's the height of ignorance to be against something you know nothing about or that doesn't even exist. So I'm just waiting to see what the study has to say. Further, to say that "none of the cities are willing to participate in this venture" is inaccurate at best, since at this point in time, there is nothing to participate in. Somerset and Ferguson have said they will opt out even if the study highlights benefits for them, but the others have adopted a more circumspect approach and like me are waiting to see what might be possible. That said, I suspect that without Somerset's buy-in it's a nonstarter, unless of course the Somerset electorate differs with the mayor and council.
#3 Jan 21, 2014
That's not entirely true. By looking at the state law, we know exactly what how this merger would work. It is in black and white for anyone to read.
If every town in Pulaski agreed to the merger, then the county would appoint 50% of the members responsible for forming the new government, whereas the most Somerset would appoint would be 42.5%, and Ferguson, Burnside, and Science Hill would be left with 2.5%, or one lone member.
And there has certainly been something to participate in already. When the SPCU came around with their hand out wanting taxpayer money to fund this study it certainly required participation! Luckily, unlike the county the cities refused to throw away taxpayer money. The amount ponied up by the county could had went a long way toward paying off the jailer's lawsuit, or paid the salary of another deputy for half a year. Instead it went to fatten the pockets of a "consultant" from Louisville.
Btw, the CJ needs to fix their website. It is only available if you try the mobile address.
#4 Jan 21, 2014
Since there is currently no unified government in KY, I'm not certain what you are referring to when you talk about "knowing" how things will work. If you could post a link to the laws you are talking about, that would be most helpful.
You are correct when you note that the SPCU asked for financial support for the study and some opted out. Mea Culpa if I misspoke. Personally I don't begrudge the money the county gave toward the study. It was not that much and just "might" lead to something positive for the county. Besides, the money being used to settle the county's current rash of law suits will be paid by the insurance company that covers the county's liability. The tax payers will feel the impact as the premiums escalate because of repeated litigation, but will not have to come up with large amounts of cash. Now if you had said that the money could have been spent settling the outstanding debt owed to the ACLU over the 10 Commandments fiasco, I might have agreed.
As for the possible breakdown for committee members, I believe the 50/42/8 split is beyond generous. If it was done strictly according to population, places like Burnside, and Ferguson would only have a partial person at the table. Think about it. Why should Burnside -- a town of some 500 people -- carry the same weight as Somerset -- which represents 11,000 or the county which represents even more.
Again, I' not in favor of a unified government. Nor am I against it. I just believe the best course is to wait until something is actually proposed before passing judgement.
#5 Jan 21, 2014
Ignorance is simply taking someone's words at face value. Do you honestly think that the citizens of Pulaski county and all it's cities can't read between the lines? Most are very aware that there have been meetings with key elected officials to determine who will fill roles at the charter government's inception. Most are also aware that the county will have majority control within this newly created government. I have one simple question for you, and you can call me ignorant as much as you like. Why would we as voters want to place the same county officials into key positions within the charter govt when their leadership has resulted in numbers of lawsuits, no funding for county agencies, and lack of accountability of public officials?? AND we're going to give them majority control?
#6 Jan 21, 2014
Here you go. All of section .900 deals with Unified Government.
I don't believe population is the proper way of proportioning any new unified government. Instead, shouldn't it be based on the size of the existing government? Being as Somerset's is roughly three times the size of Pulaski's and govern far more in scope of economic activity, they should at least have equal say to the county if not more. Given the way the law reads now, the county could not be overridden in any issue regarding unification and would thus have final say. That is unacceptable.
#7 Jan 21, 2014
Again, if you choose to base your opinions on "reading between the lines," suppositions, rumors, and things that don't even exist yet, that's your prerogative. I just hate to see people throwing out misinformation which clouds the picture unnecessarily.
#8 Jan 21, 2014
I think we're talking about two different things here. Section .900 simply says that in order to have a united government you have to put it before the electorate. That has never been in dispute. It does not, however, talk about what form the new government would take or how it would be administered. None of that is legislated, nor has anything been put on the table. This is all uncharted territory for KY, which is why the study looked at other states that do have unified governments.
Also, according to the 2010 census, the population of Pulaski County is roughly 63,000 -- approximately 11,000 live within the incorporated area of Somerset; 800 in Ferguson; 600 in Science Hill and 600 in Burnside. Because Eubank straddles two counties, it cannot not be part of a unified government. The rest of the county population -- some 50,000 strong do not live within any city government and therefore are represented only by the county. So if you give each city a single vote -- as you propose -- 13,000 people have 4 voices at the table while 50,000 only 1. Not exactly what I would call fair representative government.
#9 Jan 21, 2014
Not just .900, but the entirety of the 900's. There are statutes that deal with districting, laws passed prior to unification, alcohol, current employees, service districts, taxes, fire protection, water, boards, commissions, and more. To say that we don't know how all this will work is false, it is right there in state law.
I never proposed every government involved only have a singular vote on a committee of five. You're right, that would not be fair. But I would also say that allowing the county government, who oversees a budget of roughly $30M, to swallow the various cities with combined budgets totaling over $100M while giving said county total control(including choosing the chairperson) of the unification committee thereby forming the new ULG as they see fit while relegating every current incorporated city into minority status is also unfair. In fact, it is plain ludicrous!
Just speculation, but don't you think that the county would probably choose among the "movers and shakers" to fill their half of the ULG committee? Those same "movers and shakers" who currently make up the ranks of SPCU.
#10 Jan 21, 2014
Here is a listing of all the various statutes relating to ULG.
.900 Authorization to form unified local government.
.902 Definitions for KRS 67.900 to 67.940.
.904 Procedure for initiation of unification process -- Appointment of unification review commission.
.906 Unification review commission -- Membership -- Chairperson -- Filling vacancies.
.908 Funding of unification review commission.
.910 Unification plan -- Components -- Deadline for completion -- Dissolution of commission.
.912 Legislative council -- Chief executive and administrative officers -- Powers, duties, and salary of CEO.
.914 Public hearings on unification plan.
.916 Approval of unification plan by commission.
.918 Question of unification to be submitted to voters -- Adoption of unification plan after approval -- Prohibition against placing rejected plan on ballot for five years.
.920 Redistricting of unified local government legislative districts.
.922 Rights, powers, privileges, immunities, and responsibilities of unified local government -- Continuance of county and highest participating class of city laws -- Enactment and enforcement of ordinances.
.924 Retention of laws in force at time of unification -- Superceding existing laws -- Resolution of conflicts between county and city ordinances.
.926 Contracts and obligations of counties and cities to be honored after unification.
.928 Powers and duties of Sections 99 and 144 constitutional offices within unified territory -- Funding responsibilities and oversight duties unaffected by unification.
.930 Employees of county and cities to become employees of unified local government -- Rights, privileges, and protections of employees and their beneficiaries remain in effect.
.932 Division of unified local government's territory into service districts by legislative council -- Tax districts to correspond -- Partial-service districts.
.934 Taxing, fire protection, sanitation, water, and special districts to continue unless eliminated in plan or later dissolved -- Rate of levy.
.936 Ordinances creating boards, commissions, authorities, and interlocal agreements deemed reenacted unless eliminated in plan -- Restructuring powers of council.
.938 Continuation of tax structures and rates and service levels after unification -- Imposition of different tax rates within territory -- Certificates of delinquency.
.940 Nonparticipating cities within territory to remain incorporated and exercise existing powers -- Incorporations after unification prohibited -- Council approval required for annexation.
#11 Jan 21, 2014
Of note, take a gander at KRS 67.940.
The CJ keeps saying we don't know what will happen since Somerset and Ferguson won't join in the ULG. Yes we do, it is right there in state law. They will remain separate entities totally removed from the ULG and operate just as they do today.
An incorporated city cannot be forced to become part of a ULG, even by popular countywide vote. Before a city becomes part of any ULG their council must pass an ordinance stating they intend to be merged.
If that doesn't happen, they remain as they are today.
#12 Jan 21, 2014
Yet, by your own words there are no examples of Unified Government in the state of Kentucky. If this form of govt is appealing and beneficial in any way, why hasn't it been tried already?
Is Somerset-Pulaski County that unique? Hardly. Don't get me wrong, Somerset-PC is a great place but, far from unique. In fact London-Laurel County is virtually a mirror image of our own situation here.
It's hard to get behind a form of government that has no history in our own state.
#13 Jan 21, 2014
Thanks for taking the time to post all of the above. That will be most helpful when it is put against the study. I was aware that any incorporated city has the right to opt out. If Burnside, Science Hill or Ferguson opt out, the impact is minimal. But as I said earlier, if Somerset passes, then I doubt the idea can go the distance.
I'm a transplant. Have only been here 9 years, so I tend to look at local issues from a more detached perspective than most. I have no long standing personal allegiances within the community, so I tend to judge people and issues on track records and potential benefit to the community. This issue is about more than just eliminating duplicate services and officials. Although I am retired and have no need for post retirement employment, I am appalled by the lack of effort that the county/city governments have spent on job creation. There is a lot of economic potential here that has gone untapped simply because people are reluctant to consider alternatives. I'm not saying a unified government is the answer -- only that it is short sighted to reject this with out knowing how this will affect our economic future.
#14 Jan 21, 2014
Not one person in office today would have the ability to appoint anyone to any position in a new government. The people we would elect to the new positions would have that ability. What the anti supporters need to realize is that there are several ways to merge local government. The study may or may not promote the idea as positive. If the unified plan wouldn't work a petition could be easily submitted for urban county merger and the municipal governments could do anything about it. They would need less than 200 people in the city of Somerset to put it on a ballot.
Why is everyone avoiding the real issue.
Until we elected the current Mayor and County Judge we have never had an organized effort to even discuss this possibility. If the city didn't attempt to control everything or duplicate everything that they can't control. This would have never became an issue. The county isn't faultless either. The single event of any relevance is a fountain square. While it is very nice, it does nothing for the people in Pulaski county that has had to live through a very week job market and double digit inflation.
#15 Jan 21, 2014
Finally an intelligent statement. Fountain square(circle) is oversized for the area, guess that had something to do with Barty's appointed square builder.
#16 Jan 22, 2014
Let's not forget that the type of merged government being touted here is a"charter county government". And the statement that the "study" would not "necessarily support merged government" is ludicrous.$12k of my governments tax dollars were wasted on this just to appease a handful of affluent people in this county. As such I will not be voting for any current office holders that supported this waste. The question I have is why is fiscal court bowing to this group of affluent people? Why is fiscal court not representing the rest of us that work for a living and live paycheck to paycheck?
#17 Jan 22, 2014
Agree, it is like the Chamber is controlling the actions of the court. I will be voting against the wasteful spenders also. Vote Democrat.
#18 Jan 22, 2014
The Chamber, isn't it the chamber of commerce's job to aid in bringing "commerce" to the area? At what point was it decided that The Chamber would try to impose their ideas on local government? And why would all the members agree to allow the chamber to be a platform for one politician. The politicians need to be removed from the chamber of commerce and allow them to do what they were created to do, or get rid of it. Wonder if that could be voted on? Put it on the same ballot as the "unified government?:)
#19 Jan 22, 2014
You are correct again. Senator Chris is in a unique position, he as president of the chamber, and the Spcu "joke" study results coming out, he can use the opportunity to strengthen his political position and satisfy his $$$ supporters and Unite lovers. The Unite Gov deal will never be on a ballot, he will when he runs for state senator again. Just don't forget.
#20 Jan 22, 2014
What part of may or may not don't you understand. Stating an outcome is pure speculation. I was fair in may statement. Your user name is deceitful. A county voter that is so furiously opposed to Any idea that could assist a county that is at the mercy of a city that provides 100% of the county water services and also has made the decision to devastate the county budget (just because they can), should kick their own ass.
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