Metro has two forums this month

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Consideration of a proposal to study consolidation of Marshall County with some or all of its municipalities has at least two forums this month as the county mayor and a commissioner may be heard by a panel of municipal leaders and Chapel Hill's town board.

Chapel Hill Administrator Mike Hatten on Friday morning issued an invitation to County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett and Commissioner Don Ledford to come to the 5 p.m. meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Nov. 14 in Town Hall on the Unionville Road. Regular town business will be heard thereafter.

Meanwhile, Liggett asked Mike Wiles, executive director of the countywide Joint Economic and Community Development Board (JECDB), if the proposed consolidation study could be placed on the agenda for the board's meeting set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Columbia State Community College. Wiles accommodated Liggett, according to Wiles and the county mayor's secretary. She said Liggett was to be out of the office until today.

The JECDB is a state-mandated panel that exists for economic and community development purposes as its name indicates, but it's also the panel responding to state law requiring 20-year growth plans including rural and urban development boundaries defining where municipalities may annex and where business development is anticipated well beyond municipal lines.

Liggett referred to the panel during the Oct. 24 county commission meeting, noting that residents, the county and its municipalities survived heated meetings on urban growth boundaries. And, if there were to be a study of consolidation of government, then that examination probably wouldn't tear the community apart either.

A special panel of Maury County leaders wrote a proposed charter for a metropolitan form of government to include Columbia and its county just west of here. Voters there are to decide the fate of that charter and those governments during a referendum on March 6.

Southern Carton President Dave Kennedy is the chairman of the JECDB in Marshall County. Like all others with a vote on the JECDB, Kennedy is paid nothing for the volunteer position, and like almost all other public panel leaders here, Kennedy refrained from taking a position on the proposal to study advantages and disadvantages of consolidating local governments under a metropolitan charter.

"I don't have any thoughts, for or against, until I see and hear what is proposed," Kennedy said Monday. "But as a citizen, there's no point in discussing consolidation if it does not bring value in terms of better services and/or cost savings."

The proposal, as presented to the county commission on Sept. 26 by Ledford, was "for a study among commissioners to see if there are efficiencies to be gained and then go to the municipalities," Ledford said Monday, repeating his request to Commission Chairman Mike Waggoner. The chairman deflected the request for committee creation by asking Ledford for more information. That night, the commission voted to delegate Ledford and Liggett to gather information from the municipalities about their leaders' opinions.