One advantage of merging, according to Taylor, is that when industries looking to locate in the area see Somerset with a population of just over 11,000 (according to 2010 census numbers), they can be scared off, whereas by merging with the county, Somerset would become a much more populous town of over 63,000, and more likely to draw interest from the business community.
None of it takes place without a trip by citizens of Pulaski County to the ballot, however.
“This is an issue that will go on the ballot and the people will decide this,” said Girdler, “the most pure form of democracy.”
Girdler said the study would examine how a merged government would affect each local community. The group would then present the findings to each community so they could be better informed.
Sellers said that at this time, he would not be in favor of a unified government, “the reason being that Burnside would have such a small voice in it. ... I don’t know that the people of this town would want that. However, he added, “I’m open minded and I’m anxious to hear everything you’ve got to say, and your study, because I might could learn something. ... I don’t feel like I could ever be for it unless you prove me wrong, and I will give you that chance.”
Responded Girdler, “That’s all I ask for.”
Jones said that he had questions about the plan and wanted to give SUPC a chance to come and explain more about it. The Burnside mayor has expressed mixed feelings in prior interviews about the unified government plan. In an April 7 article in the Commonwealth Journal, Jones said that “from a taxpayer’s standpoint ... I would be in favor of more services, better services, and less cost to me” as a result of the potential merge, but in an April 11 article, Jones said that he would “fight them tooth and nail if they try to take our identity.”