Commonwealth Journal

Local News

July 13, 2013

Schmidt exploring distant cities for study

Somerset —

The study to determine feasibility of uniting city and county governments in Pulaski County has broadened its scope to the parishes of Louisiana, Big Sky Country of Montana and to the shores of Lake Tahoe in Nevada.
Luke B. Schmidt, of L.B. Schmidt and Associates, said as part of the Somerset-Pulaski County United (SPCU) study he has met with elected officials, CEOs, mayors, chambers of commerce executives, economic development officials and newspaper editors in Houma, Louisiana, seat of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana; Butte, Montana, seat of Silver Bow County consolidated in 1977 to form the sole entity of Butte-Silver Bow; and Carson City, Nevada, officially the consolidated Municipality of Carson City with expanded boundaries that touch the banks of Lake Tahoe.
 The consultant said in all three communities the overall response was that consolidation has been good and there has been more prosperity because of it. It was “really interesting,” he added.
  Locally, Schmidt said he has met with Mayor Ron Jones of Burnside and Mayor Allen Dobbs of Ferguson and has meetings scheduled with Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock and Mayor Bill Dick of Science Hill.
  About Ferguson City Council opting out of the united government plan, Schmidt remarked: “I don’t want to speak to the politics of the resolution ... and get bogged down in that.”
 Somerset also has rejected unified governments and refused to participate in financing the $35,000 study. Schmidt said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler sent him a letter rejecting a request for a meeting. He (Schmidt) said he wanted permission to study infrastructure and operational methods of Pulaski County’s largest municipal government.
  “I sent a letter to all five mayors and the county judge-executive,” said Schmidt. “I followed the letters with a telephone call.”
 From the onset of the study, Girdler and Somerset City Council have strongly rejected the idea of merged governments and directed the city’s legal department to get whatever help is necessary to protect the integrity of its boundaries.

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