Roberta, Crawford leaders consider consolidation
When your city’s population is a little more than one thousand people, you notice when there’s a change.
“It’s not as complicated as Bibb-Macon or Milledgeville-Baldwin. We’re a group of 12,000 folks and we just don’t need two governing bodies in my opinion,” Crawford County Manager Pat Kelly said.
He says commissioners discussed the possibility of consolidating governments with the city of Roberta. State Representative Robert Dickey supports the idea.
“The population lends itself to one government instead of two. I just think citizens will have less taxes, less expenses, and better services,” Dickey said.
Roberta Mayor Becky Smith and city councilman Irv Patton say they aren’t rushing to judgement. They aren’t opposed to merging either.
While consolidation talks are still in its preliminary stages, Kelly tells 41NBC that should merging happen things like the Roberta Police Department and also city hall will all be absorbed into the county government. All employees will then work for the county. No one loses a job.
“One either sheriff or police department, one fire department, one trash contractor whatever it may be, one water system,” Kelly said.
A streamline of services that Kelly says would save the county money.
He points out if there were a change, city and county residents’ property taxes would go down.
“Those property taxes would roll back to the county level,” Kelly said.
An opportunity Dickey is looking forward to and wants feedback from people in town.
“I’m just excited about getting citizen input. I think it’s a long-term plan that would have great implications in a lot of ways for the citizens out there,” he said.
If residents want to consolidate, state Representative Dickey is looking pass a bill this legislative session. If that happens, a vote on whether Roberta and Crawford County will merge is expected this year.
There are two more public meetings about consolidation on January 26th and February 9th.
Both start at 6 p.m. in the Paul Coverdale Room at the county courthouse in Knoxville.