Government Merger Lights Up Phone Lines on WKYX
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY - Everyone seems to have an opinion on the potential merging of Paducah and McCracken County's governments, and they will have plenty of time to talk about it before November 6. Turn-out from voters that day should be good, considering that the ballot issue accompanies a Presidential election, and a Mayoral race in Paducah.
Recently, a group called Paducah McCracken United has begun running ads to raise support for the merger, and County-Judge Executive Van Newberry has announced that he opposes the idea. These news stories have been a hot topic on the phone lines of the Greg Dunker Show on WKYX.
When presented the theory that services and personnel would not be duplicated, and there would be tax districts for the city and county, one man remarked, "Why mess with what you've got now?"
Another county resident said, "Anytime the government tells you they're going to save you money, you just better get your hand in your back pocket, because it's going to cost you." He added, "They're not going to eliminate any positions. They may move them around, but nobody's going to lose their job, and it's just going to end up costing the same if not more."
Another caller was concerned about public safety, and said, "What's gonna happen with our law enforcement? In my opinion, the county Sheriff should be the one, if we do merger, they know the county - all the deputies - the city police do not. And I think, if we do merge, the sheriff's department needs to be ram-rodding the law enforcement."
Yet another person remembered hearing that there were other, larger cities that tried a merged government, but it didn't work.
A man who had lived in another state and experienced a merging of governments, warned that it's all about politicians collecting taxes. "They told us all the savings it would give us, and two years after the merger, the county taxes went up 45% to match the city rate."
While the plan stipulates that taxes cannot be raised for five years, another person commented that once the merger proposal is approved by voters, those chosen to represent the people are not required to adhere to the plan - it can be modified by politicians before it even gets implemented.
Another caller, while not necessarily endorsing the whole plan, noticed that county residents working in the city might see a positive change if voters approve it.
"The people that work in the city that pay payroll taxes that are non-residents, that sounds to me like taxation without representation."
As far as representation being more equal, one caller questioned that logic. "You can slice the pie in different slices, but it's still the same size pie. And if one group is going to get more representation, would it follow logically that some other group is going to get less representation?" He added that some of the city's ongoing special projects might lose support from a county-wide government, because it's not as big a priority for all that are part of the decision. His business experience prompted him to say, "Trying to vulcanize this community into 13 little states and then put Humpty Dumpty back together again and get a cohesive movement - it sounds good theoretically, but I've just not seen that work in practice."
Several people's comments included the idea that bigger is not necessarily better, because small groups tend to work quicker and are more focused. Most callers expressed that bigger government costs more, too.