“What could we do to change some things?” Ping said they asked at the discussion. “What could we do to make our community better than what it is?”
Ping said he’s been told by businesses that Somerset, with its population of a little more than 11,000, doesn’t meet their demographic profile. That’s where the idea for a merged government came about, according to Ping. A city with more than 60,000 people — which would occur should the city and county merge — would attract a much higher number of businesses to the area.
“Everybody I spoke to was all in favor of learning more about this idea,” said Ping, who emphasized that he has yet to form an opinion on a merged government. “I don’t know all the facts, but I want to know them, I want to be educated about it.”
Ping said talks of a “take-over” of the city or the county are unfounded, and he said the study has nothing to do with either county or city governments.
“This is not a county project, and I don’t want you thinking it’s a county project,” said Ping. “It’s not a city project, and I don’t want them thinking it’s a city project.
“It’s a community project,” Ping continued. “And it’s not a project to take over one or take over the other. It’s a project to learn more about what we’re doing here.”
Ping also said he would fight “tooth and nail” to ensure jobs aren’t lost as a result of a merged government — should that even be an option after the study is completed.
“The goal is jobs, economic development, the future,” Ping said.
Magistrates were quick to offer their support of the study — although a decision on whether to provide a portion of the funding required for the study was tabled until the April 23 fiscal court meeting because Magistrate Glenn Maxey wasn’t in attendance.