Unified Government Study: Foster Pettit Speaks, Part 4

As part of the ongoing study examining how Hardin County might be served by some form of unified government, former Lexington Mayor Foster Pettit spoke to a recent gathering of HCU. You can also watch Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 of his presentation.

In the conclusion (video below), Mr. Pettit finishes the story of the Lexington and Fayette County merger, and talks about the advantages of consolidated government.

In this part of his presentation, Foster Pettit talked about some of the opportunities that would have never opened up to Lexington had the city and county not merged.  What kinds of possibilities do you hope for a unified Hardin County?  As the 3rd largest city in the state, what kinds of opportunities do you see coming our way, should unification become a reality?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Unified Government Study: Foster Pettit Speaks, Part 3

As part of the ongoing study examining how Hardin County might be served by some form of unified government, former Lexington Mayor Foster Pettit spoke to a recent gathering of HCU. To watch Part 1 of this presentation, click here; for Part 2, click here.

In Part 3 (below), Mr. Pettit continues the story of the Lexington and Fayette County merger, and talks about the difficulty of merging county and city governments.

Check back tomorrow for Part 4.

In this part of his presentation, Foster Pettit talked about how hard consolidation of local governments can be. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges to unifying governments in Hardin County?

HCU would like to hear from you in the comments below …

Press Release: Elizabethtown MSA Ranks # 1 in Personal Income Growth

MSA Ranks First Among 366 Metros

Elizabethtown Metropolitan Statistical Area Hardin County Larue County KentuckyElizabethtown, Kentucky (August 9, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today acknowledged the outstanding first place ranking of the Elizabethtown Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in personal income growth during the year 2010.

The Elizabethtown MSA includes Hardin and LaRue counties.

The Elizabethtown MSA ranked first in income growth out of 366 metros throughout the United States, according to a study released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Last year, personal income grew by 10.1%. The Elizabethtown MSA was the only MSA to achieve double digit growth in 2010. This first place ranking builds upon solid economic growth in the MSA, including last year’s fourth place finish among all metros. Recently, the MSA has achieved the following positive rankings:

  • First MSA in Kentucky to move from recession to recovery (Source: Moody’s Analytics)
  • MSA led all Kentucky MSAs in job growth 2010 – 20112 (Source: Moody’s Analytics)
  • MSA ranked 16th nationally for job growth – 20113 (Source: New Geography 2011 Best Cities for Job Growth report)
  • MSA return to 2008 peak employment is expected in 20114 (Source: Governing Magazine)

“This is great news,” said Hardin County Judge Executive Harry L. Berry.  “This ranking confirms what we have known all along, and that is that this area is on a roll.  Hardin County continues to reap the benefits of base realignment at Fort Knox and our citizens are fortunate to have job opportunities that are not necessarily available in other areas.”

Since 2008, personal income in the MSA has grown from $3.895 billion to $4.388 billion in 2010, an astounding 12.7%.  The Elizabethtown MSA was the only Kentucky MSA to crack the Top 10 in 2010, which includes the communities shown in the following chart:

Elizabethtown MSA Ranks #1 in USA Personal Income Growth

“The number one ranking shall serve to shine an additional spotlight on Hardin County,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU.  “This is a game changer.  Rankings such as this one and the other positive trends shall assist in developing new business opportunities and will create new jobs, and it illustrates the power of this market as it considers such things as unified government.”

HCU is currently leading an initiative to unify Hardin County Government with each of the six cities located in the county by calling for the appointment of a Unification Review Commission.

The complete BEA report can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/mpi/2011/mpi0811.htm

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.

Unified Government Study: Foster Pettit Speaks, Part 2

As part of the ongoing study examining how Hardin County might be served by some form of unified government, former Lexington Mayor Foster Pettit spoke to a recent gathering of HCU. To watch Part 1 of this presentation, click here.

In Part 2 (below), Mr. Pettit provides additional details of the Lexington and Fayette County merger, one example as Hardin County considers unified government.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3.

How do you think the experience in Lexington can serve as a model for Hardin County? What is your response to Part 2 of Mr. Pettit’s presentation?

Please share your ideas, questions, or concerns in the comments below.

Unified Government Study: Foster Pettit Speaks, Part 1

As part of the Unified Government Study, HCU sought the advice of two respected voices on the topic. Former mayor of Louisville, Jerry Abramson and former mayor of Lexington, Foster Pettit both were invited to speak to the HCU Steering Committee. You can watch Mr. Abramson’s presentation here.

Today, HCU is pleased to release the video of Foster Pettit’s presentation. In addition to serving as mayor of Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government during the unification, Pettit is a nationally known expert on city-county government.

In Part 1, the honorable Judge Ken Howard introduces the HCU Unified Government Study and addresses some of the goals of the ongoing study:

The study seeks to determine how Hardin County might be served by some form of unified government. The study includes an examination of the existing jurisdictions in Hardin County, an analysis of other communities which have established unified governments, interviews with key community leaders, and community forums held throughout Hardin County for the purpose of sharing some of the early findings from the study, and, most importantly obtaining input from the community’s citizens.

Following Judge Howard’s introduction, Foster Pettit begins the story of Lexington and Fayette County’s merger over 40 years ago.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2.

Friday News Roundup

The Unified Government study put Hardin County in the news this week.  In case you missed any of the largely positive coverage, here is the summary of the week:

[Click on any link to read/watch the story]

WAVE 3 Television, July 29, 2011:  “Talk of a Possible Merger in Hardin County”

WDRB 41 Television, July 29, 2011:  “Hardin County Could Become Kentucky’s 3rd Largest Community”

The News-Enterprise, July 29, 2011:  “Hardinopolis?  HCU Recommends Local Governments Unify”

The News-Enterprise, July 30, 2011:  “Unification Raised Issue About County’s Role”

The News-Enterprise, August 1, 2011:  “Mayors:  Questions Linger About Unification”

The News-Enterprise, August 3, 2011:  “Vine Grove Council Member Speaks Against Unification”

84 WHAS News, August 3, 2011:  “Next Bluegrass Metro Government — Potentially Hardin County”

The News-Enterprise, August 3, 2011:  “HCU Tackles Concerns About Unification”

 

Unified Government Study: Jerry Abramson Speaks, Part 3

As part of the ongoing study examining how Hardin County might be served by some form of unified government, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson spoke to a recent gathering of HCU. To watch Part 1 of this presentation, click here; for Part 2, click here.

In Part 3 (below), Jerry Abramson provides additional details of the Louisville and Jefferson County merger, one example as Hardin County considers unified government. In this final part of the video, he speaks about the advantages they realized as a unified, metro government. He identifies similar benefits to those highlighted by the HCU Steering Committee:

  1. 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.,
  2. 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,
  3. Streamlined government which will result in the more efficient delivery of government services to all citizens, and,
  4. The achievement of economies of scale which will result in the more efficient use of public resources (tax dollars)

HCU encourages all Hardin County citizens to make your mark on the ongoing study. Please attend the first public forum today, August 4th at 4:30 pm at the Hardin County Schools’ Performing Arts Center.

How do you think the experience in Louisville can help enable us, as Hardin County citizens, to make a good, considered decision? What is your response to the Mayor Abramson’s video?

Please share your ideas, questions, or concerns in the comments below.

Unified Government Study: Jerry Abramson Speaks, Part 2

As part of the ongoing study examining how Hardin County might be served by some form of unified government, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson spoke to a recent gathering of HCU. To watch Part 1 of this presentation, click here.

In Part 2 (below), Jerry Abramson provides additional details of the Louisville and Jefferson County merger, one example as Hardin County considers unified government.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3.

HCU encourages all Hardin County citizens to make your mark on the ongoing study. Please attend the first public forum on August 4th at 4:30 pm at the Hardin County Schools’ Performing Arts Center.

How do you think the experience in Louisville can help enable us, as Hardin County citizens, to make a good, considered decision? What is your response to Part 2 of Mayor Abramson’s video?

Please share your ideas, questions, or concerns in the comments below.

Unified Government Study: Jerry Abramson Speaks, Part 1

In this first video, the honorable Judge Ken Howard introduces the HCU Unified Government Study.  Judge Howard addresses some of the goals of the ongoing study:

The study seeks to determine how Hardin County might be served by some form of unified government. The study includes an examination of the existing jurisdictions in Hardin County, an analysis of other communities which have established unified governments, interviews with key community leaders, and community forums held throughout Hardin County for the purpose of sharing some of the early findings from the study, and, most importantly obtaining input from the community’s citizens.

Following Judge Howard’s introduction, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson talks about Louisville and Jefferson County’s experience with transitioning to unified government.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2.

HCU encourages all Hardin County citizens to make your mark on the ongoing study. Please attend the first public forum on August 4th at 4:30 pmat the Hardin County Schools’ Performing Arts Center.

What is your response to Part 1 of Mayor Abramson’s video? Please share your ideas, questions, or concerns in the comments below.

Unified Government: Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is unified government?

Unified government is a government which has been created through the unification (or, merger) of two or more units of local government.

2) Is unified local government allowed by law in Kentucky?

Yes, at present, there are three types of unified local government which are allowed by law in Kentucky, including:

  • Urban County Government
  • Consolidated Local Government
  • Unified Local Government

3) What are the differences between the three?

Urban County Government is the structure used in Lexington and when it was implemented in the 1970s resulted in the complete consolidation of the “old” city of Lexington and Fayette County into a completely unified Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government – a completely new jurisdiction which lies within the old boundaries of Fayette County and resulted in “one of everything” in terms of government departments and services.

Consolidated Local Government was used by the “old” city of Louisville and Jefferson County to create the new Louisville-Jefferson County Metropolitan Government (also known as Louisville Metro). This approach allowed the city to consolidate with the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County. It also allows the 70 + incorporated suburban communities (such as St. Matthews, Jeffersontown, etc.) to merge with Louisville Metro if they choose to (or, they can remain free-standing, intact cities). This statute requires the existence of a pre-existing First Class city (because Louisville is the only First Class city in Kentucky, Jefferson County is the only community which can use this statute for unification purposes).

Unified Local Government was created by statute in 2006 and has not yet been used by any jurisdiction in the state. It is very similar to the Consolidated Local Government discussed above; however, it does not require the pre-existence of a First Class city.

4) Which form of unified government is HCU recommending to the community?

After conducting a year-long examination of the issue of unified local government, HCU believes that the Unified Local Government concept offers the best approach for the community.

5) Why is HCU making this recommendation?

Unified Local Government offers Hardin County flexibility. Here’s how it works. At a minimum, Hardin County Government would unify with at least the City of Elizabethtown and/or the City of Radcliff (you have to have County government and at least one of the two largest cities combine to make this work). Ideally, Hardin County Government will unify with all six city governments (Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Sonora, Upton, Vine Grove and West Point).

However, unification might not be for everyone. Therefore, by using the Unified Local Government approach, if the citizens in one of the cities prefer to remain free-standing, they can.

6) How is Unified Local Government implemented?

State law provides a pathway for forming a unified local government.

First, an ordinance is introduced and considered by each of the local government jurisdictions that are candidates for unification (county government and the city governments). The ordinance is simple and very straightforward and creates a Unification Review Commission.

Second, upon passage, each jurisdiction appoints citizens to serve on the Unification Review Commission.

Third, the Unification Review Commission will hold several meetings (really public hearings) over a several month period during which the Commission members will actually draft a plan (also known as a Charter) for what the new unified government will look like.

Fourth, once the plan has been completed, it will be submitted to the voters for approval.

7) If my city council votes to approve the ordinance creating the Unification Review Commission, does that mean that they are voting for merger and it’s a done deal?

Absolutely not! What it means is that your city council wants your city to have a place at the table as the unification plan is developed – to help shape it. In the end, the voters will vote to approve the plan. Voters (citizens) have the only say in the end as to whether the community unifies or not.

8) Is there a downside to my city council voting NO on the ordinance?

Absolutely! By voting NO, your city will not have any input at all as to how the unification plan will be developed. More importantly, when the unification plan is presented to the voters, the plan will include all jurisdictions that approved the ordinance. Only those communities that participated will have the opportunity to be part of the new unified community.

9) What does this really mean?

Let’s use Vine Grove as the hypothetical example here. Let’s assume that Hardin County Fiscal Court and the city councils of all of the cities, with the exception of Vine Grove, approve the ordinance to create the Unification Review Commission.

When the Commission is appointed, Vine Grove will not be allowed to appoint any members. As the plan is developed, it will be developed to include the county and the other five cities. Whatever benefits that are identified to come as a result of unification will not include the City of Vine Grove. If the voters approve the plan, Vine Grove will remain a free-standing city while the other jurisdictions will reap the benefits of merger.

10) If the community unifies, does that mean that the schools will also merge?

No! This issue pertains to local government only. Existing school districts will remain intact, as will existing utilities.

11) What are the benefits to unified local government?

HCU believes that there are four primary benefits to unified local 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 which will result in a reduced rate of increase in the cost to provide public services over time, and,
  • The achievement of economies of scale which will result in the more efficient use of public resources (tax dollars)

12) Will my taxes go up?

Most likely not. However, issues such as taxes will be considered and decided upon by the Unification Review Commission as it develops its plan (which will be subject to voter approval).

13) I live in Radcliff. If the community unifies, will I have to pay the restaurant tax to support the Elizabethtown Sports Park?

No! Upon implementation of unification, all existing taxing districts will remain in place. The restaurant tax will continue to be collected, only within the “old” boundaries of the City of Elizabethtown

14) My brother works for the Planning Department in Elizabethtown. Will he lose his job as the result of unification?

Again, the Unification Review Commission will develop a plan which will outline what kinds of departments will be required in order to “run” the new unified government. HCU’s examination of five unified governments in Georgia and Kentucky highlighted the fact that no public workers lost their jobs as the result of unification.

Organizational “right-sizing” generally occurred within the first three years of unification through job reassignments, retirements and normal attrition. No layoffs occurred as the result of unification.

15) Will my level of government services go up or down?

Generally speaking, your level of services will stay the same; however, in some areas, they might be increased. This will be addressed by the Unification Review Commission.

16) I live in White Mills and I have been following the wet/dry vote which will be coming up in October in Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove.  If any or all three of these cities vote “wet” in the election, and, the community ultimately unifies, does that mean that all of Hardin County will become “wet?”

No!  Under Kentucky law, areas can become “wet” only through a local option election.  Unification does not change that.  If any or all three of the cities vote “wet,” then upon unification, only those areas that voted “wet” will stay “wet.”  This will be determined, geographically speaking, by precinct.

17) Who will run the new unified local government?

Again, this will be up to the Unification Review Commission (with ultimate approval coming from the voters).

HCU envisions a unified local government that includes a strong executive branch and a strong legislative branch. The legislative branch would include representatives elected from a specific geographic district and representatives elected on an at-large basis (but required to live in specific areas).

The net result would be that each citizen would vote for three directly elected representatives: “metro” mayor, “metro” council member (geographic) and “metro” council member (at-large).

18) How can I learn more about unified local government in Hardin County?

HCU encourages you to attend the Community Forum which will be held at the Hardin County Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School (384 W.A. Jenkins Road, Elizabethtown) on Thursday, August 4th, beginning at 4:30 PM EDT. HCU also plans several “neighborhood” forums in the next few weeks.

Finally, be sure and visit the HCU Web site (www.hardincountyunited.com) for more detailed information and periodic updates.

19) How can I make sure my community is involved in the process?

Be sure and contact the county judge/executive, your fiscal court magistrate, your mayor, and your city council members (remember to contact all of them) and encourage them to pass the ordinance creating the Unification Review Commission to ensure that your community has a seat at the table and that you have an opportunity to vote on this issue!

20) When it comes time for the voters to approve the plan, what happens?

HCU envisions that the Unification Review Commission will complete its work and the plan that the Commission develops will be presented for approval by the voters in November 2012. The plan will require that a majority of voters approve it in each jurisdiction. For example, if Hardin County voters, along with voters in five of the six cities vote YES, then unified government will take place in each jurisdiction with the exception of the community which voted NO (it remains a free-standing community as before and does not get any of the advantages of unified government).