Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 24, 2013

Study for ‘unified’ government is now underway

Somerset —

The next step toward a potential merged city-county government is now in progress, as work has begun on the key feasibility study that will determine whether or not citizens could benefit from such a development.
The organization responsible for the move to look at a unified government, Somerset-Pulaski County United (SPCU), announced Friday that efforts to conduct the study have started and are ongoing.
“We’re glad to get this study underway as we believe that we will learn a lot about how our local government jurisdictions function today,” said Brook Ping, SPCU chairman. “At the same time, we want to learn more about unified government – how it operates – and see if there are any benefits to introducing this concept to Pulaski County.”
The study is being funded by a grant from Pulaski County Fiscal Court and by the members of SPCU. It’s expected to take about four months to complete.
In April, SPCU introduced its plan to conduct a study that would attempt to measure the possible benefits of combing Pulaski County Government with the individual city governments: Somerset, Burnside, or any such municipality that would opt in.
If the study turned up positive results, the county’s citizens would have the chance to vote on whether or not to go through with the unified government proposal.
Under the plan, Pulaski Fiscal Court would appoint half the members of a Unified Government Commission, and the remaining members would be appointed by participating cities prorated on population. 
Under state law, a unified government would not affect school districts, existing taxing districts in the county, or local option areas. It would not alter boundaries of precincts and legislative districts. Unified government, if approved by voters, would vacate current political positions and establish a new governing structure.
A new Somerset-Pulaski County unified government would create Kentucky’s third largest city with a population of 63,700. It would be the first unified government of its kind in Kentucky. Metro governments in Louisville and Lexington were created under different statutes, although in principle the way they operate would be similar to a merged government here.

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