Organizers for Somerset-Pulaski County United got what they feel was a unfair tongue-lashing from Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler last night.
“The mayor’s reaction was far-fetched, over-reaching and unfounded,” said 15th Dist. Sen. Chris Girdler, a member of Somerset-Pulaski County United (SPCU), following last night’s Somerset City Council session.
The mayor’s scolding came after Somerset City Council unanimously dismissed the group’s request for about $11,700 in financial assistance to help study the pros and cons of merging city and county governments—a merger that would make Somerset the third largest city in Kentucky. SPCU’s members include a virtual “Who’s Who” of Pulaski County civic, business and government leaders. The study they want will cost $35,000, a third of which they are pledging with hopes that Somerset City Council and Pulaski Fiscal Court will each split the remainder of the cost.
“Why ask the city and county for any money? You want to do a study, do it yourself,” the mayor said, reprimanding SPCU visitors. “Don’t ask the taxpayers to do your dirty work. So if you’re going to come back to us, you better come back with enough information and documentation or you wont be put on the agenda again. Does that make it clear to you all? You all are intelligent. You know better than this.”
(One SPCU member was overhead to say that Girdler had a lot of nerve to express a legal opinion to a group that included four attorneys.)
Brook Ping, chairman of SPCU, requested that SPCU be reserved time on the agenda of the next council meeting in two weeks to revisit the issue—a request which was granted.
During the session, Councilor Jim Rutherford wondered if SPCU is precipitating the study of a merged government as an offshoot of an ongoing city-county dispute over their joint Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system, a contention Ping said was absolutely unfounded.