“Our citizens ... made this investment ... there must be a reason for establishing a municipality,” said Councilor Tom Eastham. “Now the citizens of Somerset are reaping the benefits of that. I don’t think there are any changes that can be made to benefit the city of Somerset.
“We are very unique and the uniqueness of our city mandates we protect the investment of our citizens,” Tom Eastham added.
Tom Eastham noted that he would consider supporting a study should a majority of his constituents support the effort. But he said he hasn’t heard those sentiments.
Councilor Jerry Wheeldon, along with Councilor John Ricky Minton and Councilor Jim Mitchell, echoed those thoughts and said they don’t feel a merged government would benefit the city.
“I don’t think the city’s got one thing to gain by switching governments,” Wheeldon said.
Councilor Jimmy Eastham said he’s uncomfortable with the division between city and county — something that has been exacerbated by the recent Somerset-Pulaski County EMS funding issues.
“Dividing lines is what I don’t like to see,” Jimmy Eastham said, who noted he’d be willing to sit down and discuss the issue. “ ... We’re all in this together.”
Jimmy Eastham pointed out that many county residents may look at annexation into the city negatively, but he said a merged government may accomplish similar things.
“I’m a huge proponent of annexation, which seems to me is kind of like a bad word,” Jimmy Eastham said. “I’m having a hard time understanding not being for annexation but being for consolidating the government.”
Several councilors, including Pat Bourne, Donna Hunley, and Linda Stringer, declined to give an opinion on the issue, stating they’d rather wait until a formal presentation is given by Somerset-Pulaski County United.