The Somerset-Pulaski County United group believes a merged government may be a better way to run the City of Somerset and Pulaski County.
But Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler on Monday let group members know he vehemently disagrees with the effort.
Girdler during Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting declined to allow the group to speak about their effort, which came to light last Thursday during a press conference announcing the group’s intent to spearhead a study to determine whether a merged city-county government is feasible.
Girdler, calling the legal status of Somerset-Pulaski County United into question, said the city cannot legally help fund any study the organization may want to carry out. He also took issue with the apparent suddenness of the effort.
“A request sent only last week, while many of us were out of town,” said Girdler. “ ... Most agencies or businesses will submit a request and wait for response.
“And rather than waiting for the city to respond ... they decided to come on their own,” Girdler added.
The council read and unanimously passed a resolution on Monday rejecting any future proposals for a unified government, and the resolution states that the city will not provide any funding for the study.
The resolution likened a merged government to a “welfare system whereby the hard-earned assets of the citizens of Somerset are taken from the citizens of Somerset of which 70 percent are on fixed income and given to others that do not have the legal or moral right to obtain ...”
The resolution continues by stating utility rates would increase, jobs would be lost, and “ ... all major and future projects will cease due to uncertain future condition (s).”
Several of the councilors agreed a merged government would not hold any benefits for the city, which they pointed out has grown its assets over the decades and profits from operations such as a natural gas distribution system, a water treatment plant that provides water wholesale to water companies across the county, and a sewage plant.