Hardin County Residents Support the Formation of the Unification Review Commission

Nearly Two Thousand E-Mails Sent by Residents to the Members of 
Hardin County Fiscal Court and the Elizabethtown City Council 
Encouraging the Adoption of Ordinances Which Will Create the Commission

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (July 20, 2012) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that 1,855 E-Mails have been sent by over 120 Hardin County residents, calling for the establishment of the Unification Review Commission to the members of Hardin County Fiscal Court and the Elizabethtown City Council. Support for the establishment of the Commission is widespread:

  • Total of 1,855 messages sent
  • 99.8% support the establishment of the Unification Review Commission
  • Only 0.2% oppose the establishment of the Unification Review Commission

“It is clear that people would like to have a choice when it comes to considering the future of government in Hardin County,” said Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard, who also chairs HCU’s Governance Subcommittee. “The margin of supporting E-Mails is especially gratifying, as it illustrates that citizens are beginning to become engaged in this issue. It is important that citizens continue to speak out and let their elected officials know where they stand on this important issue,” said Howard.

Earlier this summer, and as part of its ongoing leadership on this issue, HCU members along with Board members from the Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation and members of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce began sending E-Mails to all Hardin County magistrates, Elizabethtown city council members, Judge/Executive Harry Berry and Mayor Tim Walker, encouraging all to consider and pass ordinances which will soon be introduced which, if passed, will formally establish the Unification Review Commission.

Hardin County Fiscal Court and the Elizabethtown City Council are the minimum legally required to approve the Unification Review Commission under state law. Once this occurs, HCU then intends to begin outreach to elected officials in each of the remaining five incorporated cities in the county: Radcliff, Sonora, Upton, Vine Grove and West Point to encourage their participation in the Commission.

“Establishment of the Unification Review Commission does not automatically merge local governments,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC and consultant to HCU. “The Commission simply provides the legal platform by which 20 to 40 Hardin County citizens, appointed by the participating governments, can begin developing a plan for unified government. Once the plan has been completed, it will be presented to the voters for careful review and an up or down vote in November 2014,” said Schmidt.

Hardin County is not alone when it comes to the issue of merged government in Kentucky. Louisville and Lexington each consolidated with Jefferson and Fayette counties respectively in prior years. Currently, voters in Paducah and McCracken County are considering a plan of merged government. Leaders in Kenton County have begun a dialogue concerning merged government. HCU believes that there are four compelling reasons to formally consider unified government in Hardin County, including:

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

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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; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President 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. Web: www.hardincountyunited.com

Unification Back On the Table

Hardin County United to resume efforts to form commission this month

By Marty Finley Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 1:36 am (Updated: June 3, 9:45 am)

The call for a unification review commission may have been quiet in recent months, but Hardin County United is ready to resume its push.

After successfully lobbying for changes in state law regarding approval requirements for unified city/county government, HCU officials plan to reconnect with the seven local municipalities. Its goal is to secure support for forming a commission and appointing members to draft a unification plan and charter to be presented to voters by November 2014.

No dates have been scheduled, but Ken Howard, chairman of the HCU governance subcommittee, said he believes it will try to start scheduling meetings this month — beginning with Hardin Fiscal Court.

A unified local government in Kentucky requires participation of the county.

“It just makes logical sense to start with Fiscal Court,” Howard said.

Luke Schmidt, a consultant for HCU, said officials will approach the county and six cities with a short update on the merits of unification. The organization argues it would allow the county to leverage the size of its population to improve its profile at state and national levels, boosting its competitiveness in the global economy.

Howard and Schmidt also have argued a unified government would streamline government functions by eliminating duplicate  services.
Schmidt said HCU plans to update officials on changes in state law and how those would affect Hardin County.

“We want to make sure they understand the ramifications of it,” Schmidt said.

Several local officials, Hardin Fiscal Court in particular, were reluctant to form a commission when first approached by HCU because of ambiguity surrounding sovereignty of a city’s vote. HCU suspended its campaign to ensure a city would not be dissolved into a unified government if a majority of its residents voted against a unification charter.

County legislators, led by Rep. Jimmie Lee and Sen. Dennis Parrett, introduced new language to the Kentucky General Assembly, which moved through the general session with unanimous support.

Howard said the changes in state law put old concerns to rest but also provide Kentucky a better piece of legislation because the new law includes a safeguard that is fair to everyone. Howard said if unincorporated portions of the county reject unification during a referendum, the unification plan would fail to pass.

“I think that’s really important,” he said. “It can’t be pockets of support.”

Schmidt and Howard said HCU also plans to create an online presence to provide residents an avenue to share opinions on unification with elected officials.

If cities are open to the idea, HCU will propose ordinances to create a commission and appoint members. Inclusion in the commission does not lead to a merger, Schmidt said, because voters must decide on unification at the polls.
Howard said HCU hopes to have a commission in place to allow plenty of time for members to work on a plan before the 2014 election. A plan can take one to two years to put together, depending on the community.

“There is a large amount of work that needs to be done to put a plan together,” Schmidt said.
But Schmidt argued the commission’s formal deliberations are the only way to know what a unified structure in Hardin County would look like. During the first push for unification, residents asked a slew of questions, wondering how taxes would be structured and public safety impacted by a unified government.

“All good questions,” Schmidt said. “But we can’t answer them because we don’t have the commission.”

Radcliff Councilman Edward Palmer attended a recent HCU meeting and said he wants Radcliff to hold its own forums on unification to gather input. Radcliff is the only city in the county to formally opt out of the commission and Palmer said he did not want HCU to be able to use the city’s decision as firepower when arguing for unification.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.

New Law Advances Unified Government Conversation Locally

Guest column by Ken Howard
Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 12:48 am (Updated: May 17, 1:01 am)
By Ken Howard

If someone asked you “What is the third largest community in Kentucky” what would you think?  Louisville Metro is first.  Lexington/Fayette Urban County is second.  But who is third?  When Hardin County residents are asked this question the common answers are Covington-Kenton County or Bowling Green-Warren County or Owensboro-Daviess County.

The correct answer is us, Hardin County.

But if we do not view ourselves as the third largest after Louisville and Lexington, is it surprising that others (federal government, state government, ‘industry, etc.) do not either?  Historically, we have viewed ourselves as parts (Elizabethtown, Radcliff, city, rural, north and south) not as a whole (Hardin County).  Hardin County United has been exploring the question: Are we better together?

More than a year ago, a group of volunteers known as Hardin County United started thinking about this question. The group concluded that the positive possibilities of “together” was worthy of consideration and discussion in Hardin County.  The group adopted the Mayflower concept. If we sailed from Europe today and landed on the shores of Hardin County with almost 110,000 people living and working here, how would we govern ourselves? The current seven units of local government (county government with six cities) or something different? Something more “together?”

After much research, the group concluded something more together is known as unified government under Kentucky law.  So we began the discussion last fall with fiscal court, city councils and more than 30 civic groups: Do we want to think about unified government for all of Hardin County, understanding that only a vote of the people can approve such a change?  Most people after having unified government explained wanted to think about it and make the decision for themselves at the ballot, it’s called democracy.  During these community discussions, one concern was universally expressed: Only a particular city’s voters should determine if such city would participate in unified government, not the voters of the county as a whole.

Hardin County United agreed with this concept from the beginning. To ensure this “city vote,” a change in state law was required. Rep. Jimmie Lee, Sen. Dennis Parrett and others went to work and House Bill 189 passed unanimously in the 2012 General Assembly. It guaranteed a city vote and more. So, the skies are clear to sail (think) about the possibilities of being together in Hardin County (unified government).  Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Hardin County was built by forward-thinking people to make it better than most. Unified government is a continuation of this type of thinking.

So, let’s explore, dream and discover together if unified government is right for us. You can begin with information at www.HardinCountyUnited.com.  Ken M. Howard, a circuit judge and former county attorney, is a member of Hardin County United and chairman of its governance committee

source: News-Enterprise

The News Enterprise: Path to Consolidation Easier to Understand Now

The following editorial first appeared in The News-Enterprise on April 10, 2012.  The full, online version can be seen here: http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/path-consolidation-easier-understand-now

ISSUE: Passage of House Bill 189
OUR VIEW:
 A model of cooperation for all to follow

An issue that surfaced during preliminary discussions about restructuring government in Hardin County has led to a revision of state law.

House Bill 189 clarifies a legal ambiguity in previous legislation allowing voters to consider unified government.

As revised, voters in existing cities and towns can reject the concept of governmental merger even if the county vote as a whole favors the concept.

This self-determination provision, which was developed to address concerns here in Hardin County, also was extended by legislators to apply to residents of unincorporated areas.

The community organization known as Hardin County United asked local leaders and residents last year to consider forming a panel to study and formulate a plan for merged government.

Voters would have final say over any final draft. Thanks to passage of this bill, we now know how those votes would be tallied. State Rep. Jimmie Lee and state Sen. Dennis Parrett deserve some of the credit for shepherding the issue through Frankfort.

Even if local officials never move any further toward the concept of governmental consolidation here, the changes make for good law. Protecting the voice of a local constituency from becoming caught in a larger neighbor’s enthusiasm is the best practice.

After all, this entire issue revolves around the idea that the people form the government. The basic question regarding consolidated government is finding a system that makes the most sense for most of us.

But passage of HB 189 has a second value never anticipated when the idea surfaced.

It demonstrates the value of a cooperative spirit in the legislative process. Good things still can happen, even in a frequently dysfunctional body such as the General Assembly, when people listen and look for consensus.

Authors of the bill worked with the Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association of Counties to address unique concerns of both organizations. This consensus-building process smoothed the legislative channels by eliminating missteps and turning potential opponents into advocates for the legislation.

It was so well managed, in fact, the bill received no negative votes along the way. Unanimous passage is rare but HB 189 went through the Senate and the House (twice) with all yes votes.

It would be naive to expect any sort of unanimous voice when reorganizing local government resurfaces for discussion locally. But we all should be looking for the same level of reasonable discussion and the same cooperative nature.

When that kind of communication occurs in government, everyone wins.

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

Elizabethtown Metro Area Shows Strong Population Growth

MSA Outperformed all Kentucky MSAs Since 2010 Census

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (April 6, 2012) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Elizabethtown Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) outperformed all Kentucky MSAs in population growth in terms of the percentage change in population. The Elizabethtown MSA includes both Hardin and LaRue counties.

According to estimates provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Elizabethtown MSA grew by 2,029 people between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. This represents a growth rate of 1.7%, which outperformed all other Kentucky MSAs (the Lexington MSA had the next highest rate of growth: 1.5%, followed by Clarksville/Hopkinsville at 1.4%; the Louisville MSA grew by 0.9%).

In another important ranking, the Elizabethtown MSA (out of 366 metros in the U.S.) ranked 63rd in its percentage change in population, again outperforming all other Kentucky MSAs (Lexington followed by ranking 85th, followed by Clarksville/Hopkinsville at 102nd; the Louisville MSA ranked 169th in percentage of change in population). The Elizabethtown MSA also moved up in its overall population ranking (out of 366 metros) from 314th to 313th largest metro.

Commenting on the strong growth figures, Hardin County United Chairman Harry L. Berry stated, “It is important to note that most of this growth occurred after the “big inhale/exhale” of base realignment at Fort Knox. In other words, this new growth, while indirectly impacted by Fort Knox, is not the direct result of increases to Fort Knox personnel related to BRAC.”

“Hardin County is indeed the beneficiary of the recent BRAC growth on Post…the question now becomes, how do we sustain this growth,” said Berry

This announcement follows on the heels of last year’s announcement that the Elizabethtown MSA led all 366 MSAs in personal income growth in 2010, after moving up from fourth place nationally in 2009. The Elizabethtown MSA also led the nation in growth in GDP in 2010.

Echoing the comments of Judge Berry, Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU stated, “This is terrific news. The Elizabethtown MSA is leading the nation in several key indicators. People want to come here to take advantage of the opportunities that are present in the marketplace. It now becomes even more important for the community’s leaders to stay focused on maintaining and building on this growth. Unified government can provide a key opportunity for the community to come together, leverage its size and strengths to grow even more and create more new jobs,” said Schmidt.

A chart which illustrates the population growth figures for all Kentucky MSAs accompanies this press release. Additional information on HCU and its ongoing unified government initiative can be found by visiting the organization’s Web site: www.hardincountyunited.com.

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; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President 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.

Press Release: Kentucky State Senate Passes House Bill 189

Legislation Assures the Integrity of a Community’s Vote On a Plan for Unified Government

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (March 27, 2012) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Kentucky State Senate passed House Bill 189 by a vote of 36 – 0. House Bill 189, which was introduced by State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown), and was supported by State Sen. Dennis Parrett (D-Elizabethtown) was passed earlier by the House of Representatives by a vote of 93 – 0. The language of House Bill 190, which had been previously introduced by Rep. Lee was rolled into the broader HB 189 which includes provisions pertaining to both unified government and charter government.

HB 189 was supported by Hardin County United and the Kentucky League of Cities.

Following-up on concerns initially expressed by several local elected officials, HCU pledged to work with the General Assembly to both clarify and strengthen existing statutory language pertaining to how a county can unify with one or more cities located within the county. Highlights of HB 189 include:

HB 189 strengthens the language and gives voters considering a plan of unified government the assurance that the integrity of their vote will be respected; if a majority of a city’s voters vote NO, then that city remains a free-standing city as before, even if the other cities’ voters vote to unify

HB 189 also specifies that the majority of voters in the unincorporated area of a county must also vote YES in order for merger to occur

HB 189 also calls for merger to occur only when the county and the largest city in the county agree to merger, or, the county and a combination of cities which represent at least 50% of the municipal population agree to merger

HB 189 provides protection for ALL voters

“I am pleased that the General Assembly agreed with our position on the need to strengthen and clarify the language,” said State Sen. Dennis Parrett. “HB 189 achieves all of the goals that we set at the beginning of the session on this issue. Voters can rest assured that if they are asked to consider and vote on a proposed plan of unified government that the wishes of the majority of voters in their community will be respected, regardless of the overall outcome,” said Parrett.

“Hardin County is growing and this legislation provides a path forward for the community to enter into a careful and deliberate dialogue about the potential benefits that unified government might provide,” said State Rep. Jimmie Lee.

“Each legislator that I met with on this issue quickly understood the need and the importance of protecting the integrity of any vote which might occur on unified government, not only in Hardin County, but throughout the Commonwealth,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC and consultant to HCU. “This legislation will have a positive impact across Kentucky,” said Schmidt.

Speaking for Hardin County United’s Governance Subcommittee, Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard thanked legislators for their leadership on this issue, “In addition to Rep. Lee and Sen. Parrett, HCU appreciates the support of Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), Rep. Jeff Greer (D-Brandenburg), Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington), and, Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon).”

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; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President 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.

Luke Schmidt Interviews with WFPL

Hardin County Merger Proponents Say New Bill Should Ease Residents’ Concerns

This article originally appeared on WFPL.org

Proponents of a merged government in Hardin County hope to put the issue on the ballot this year.

Advocates say combining Elizabethtown, Vine Grove and Radcliffe with Hardin County’s unincorporated areas and other cities would be a boon to economic development. The governments can merge under the same state law that allowed Lexington and Fayette County to consolidate in 1974. (The law that allowed the Louisville-Jefferson County merger applies only to first class cities.)

But, to assuage any concerns from residents, merger proponents are championing legislation in Frankfort that would allow individual cities to opt out of the merger if a majority of residents oppose consolidation. If that happens, the cities would seemingly either fall under the governance of an entity they opposed or exist without a county. Before the public can vote on the matter, officials will have to figure out how an independent city would interact with the merged government that surrounds it.

“At this point, it’s kind of hard to say exactly,” says Hardin County United spokesman Luke Schmidt. “For example, how would emergency medical services be provided? Today, county government provides emergency medical service throughout the county.”

Schmidt says the merger agreement should spell out any questions about independent cities.

“We’d like to have it on the ballot this November,” he says. “This being a presidential election, we’ll have a high turnout of voters to begin with and we think that’s important. But we want to do the plan the right way. If that requires more time and we can’t make it, we’ll push it to the next election.”

He expects the document to be finalized in time to have it on the ballot in November, but says there’s no official deadline, and the vote could happen in a following year.

Press Release: Kentucky House of Representatives Passes House Bill 190

Vote of 94 – 0 Indicates Broad Support for Measure to Strengthen Unified Government Statute

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (January 18, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today recognized the action taken by the Kentucky House of Representatives in passing House Bill 190 by a vote of 94 – 0. HB 190 was introduced by State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown) and is co-sponsored by State Representatives Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), and Arnold Simpson (D-Covington).

“I am pleased to report to the citizens of Hardin County who have been following the issue of unified government that their concerns about how an individual city’s citizens’ vote on a unified government plan will be treated have been heard loud and clear by the House of Representative,” said State Representative Jimmie Lee. “Voters can rest assured that HB 190 clearly states that if the majority of a city’s voters vote no on a plan for unified government, then that city will remain free-standing, even if other jurisdictions should vote yes for the plan,” said Lee.

“Passage of HB 190 by the House of Representatives represents another major step forward in HCU’s initiative to bring a plan on unified government to the citizens of Hardin County,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “HCU is following up on its commitment to address this issue,” said Schmidt.

“HCU appreciates the leadership that our Hardin County legislative delegation is bringing to this issue,” said Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard, Chair of HCU’s Governance Subcommittee. “We look forward to turning our attention to the Kentucky State Senate in moving this issue through to final passage” said Howard.

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; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President 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.

Press Release: Legislation Introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly to Assure the Integrity of a Community’s Vote on Unified Government

House Bill 190 and Senate Bill 78 Seek to Assure Communities that the Votes of their Citizens will Count When it Comes to Determining Final Participation in a Unified Government Plan

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (January 6, 2012) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that legislation has been filed in both the Kentucky State House of Representatives and the Kentucky State Senate. The companion bills – House Bill 190, introduced by State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown) and State Representative Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), and, Senate Bill 78, introduced by Senator Dennis Parrett (D-Elizabethtown) – are designed to affirm the intent of the majority of voters participating in a community-wide referendum on unified government.

HCU launched its unified government initiative on August 4, 2011. The process, as specified under existing state law, first requires county government along with city governments that wish to participate in the process to pass an ordinance which creates the Unification Review Commission. The Commission, once established, will include between 20 and 40 citizens appointed by the various participating governments. It is the Commission’s responsibility to develop a plan for unified government which will include county government and the participating municipal governments. Once the plan has been completed, it is to be submitted to the voters in the participating jurisdictions for review and approval.

As HCU presented its findings to the community on the potential benefits of unified government, concern was expressed by several elected officials about how an individual community’s vote on unified government would be handled in relation to the votes in the other jurisdictions. In other words, and, hypothetically speaking, if voters in the county and say five of the six Hardin County cities voted to unify, what would happen to the city who’s voters voted not to unify?

“Hardin County United has been clear from the beginning that the intent of the majority of a community’s voters must be respected,” said Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard, Chairperson of HCU’s Governance Subcommittee. “If a majority of voters in a given city vote no on unification, even though the other jurisdictions vote yes on unification, then it is our view that the community that voted no should be allowed to remain a free-standing community.”

“Existing state law is not as clear as it needs to be on this issue,” said State Representative Jimmie Lee. “The intent of our bill is to clear up any ambiguity that exists in order to provide voters in a given community complete assurance that the majority view on unified government as expressed by the voters in that community will be upheld.”

House Bill 190 and Senate Bill 78 were introduced during the first week of the Regular Session which convened in Frankfort on January 3, 2012. “This is an important next step in HCU’s initiative to bring a plan of unified government to the voters of Hardin County and its cities,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “Many good questions have been raised by citizens during our 25+ community presentations on this issue. Most of these questions can’t be answered until the Unification Review Commission is appointed and it drafts its plan, which will be submitted to the voters for their careful review and consideration.”

“I have consulted with local elected officials and believe that new legislation is necessary to clarify existing statutes.  With the passage of this bill, any city council that chooses to approve the establishment of a Unification Review Commission can do so with the confidence that the voters in their respective community will have the final say as to whether they participate in a unified government,” said Representative Tim Moore.  “City Councils will have the authority to allow participation.  And, if the unification process is initiated by their locally elected officials, the majority of voters in a given community will determine the outcome for each community.”

“I look forward to raising this important issue with my colleagues in the Senate,” said State Senator Dennis Parrett. “Voters voting on a plan of unified government need to feel confident that their community’s wishes on the issue will be respected – passage of Senate Bill 78 will make this happen.”

HCU believes that there are four primary benefits to unifying local government in Hardin County, including:

1. The attainment of a new level of clout as Kentucky’s third largest community that will assist the entire community in the creation of new jobs,

2. 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.,

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).

“We view this as positive legislation,” said Schmidt. “This legislation impacts only those communities in Kentucky that are considering unified government and there is no fiscal impact on the Commonwealth – meaning no new taxes will be required in order to implement this legislation.”

More information on HCU’s unified government initiative can be found by visiting HCU’s Web site: www.hardincountyunited.com.

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; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President 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.

Press Release: Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation Endorses the Establishment of the Unification Review Commission

Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation Endorses the Establishment of the Unification Review Commission

EIF is the Fifth Organization to Opt to Learn More about Unified Government

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (November 23, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation Board of Directors recently voted to endorse the establishment of the Unification Review Commission. The Foundation is the fifth organization in Hardin County to step forward and state its support for the development of the Commission.

“HCU is pleased to have the support of the Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, and consultant to HCU. “The Foundation recognizes the value that the Commission brings to the table regarding the development of a comprehensive plan that can be presented to the voters concerning how unified government might work in Hardin County,” said Schmidt.

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. Passage of the ordinance does not in itself create merger, nor does it mean that any city council, or fiscal court, is approving merger.

“Hardin County has always been one of the most progressive communities in Kentucky,” said Ken Howard, HCU Governance Subcommittee Chairperson. “HCU appreciates the recognition on the part of the Foundation’s Board of Directors that it is important for the community to take the next step to actually develop a plan which will detail how unified government might be structured in the community. Only then will we know the answers to the many good questions which have been raised about this issue,” said Howard.

HCU believes that there are four primary benefits to be gained by unifying local governments, including:

1. 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,

2. 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.,

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)

The Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation joins the Hardin County Library Board of Trustees, the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Cecilia Ruritan Club and the Glendale Lions Club in calling for the creation of the Commission. Interested citizens can learn more about unified government and its benefits by visiting the HCU Web site: www.hardincountyunited.com.

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; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President 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.