Leaders should think about merged government in Boyle County

Published 6:36 pm Friday, February 8, 2019

During a recent two-hour joint meeting, the Danville City Commission and the Boyle County Fiscal Court voted to create a new, five-person working group to “address how to handle the findings and recommendations of the city’s recently completed parks master plan.”

The admirable Advocate reporter Bobbie Curd wrote that there was some confusion in the meeting about why another group was needed, since there is already a Danville/Boyle County Parks & Rec Board as well as a former seven-member ad hoc committee. The meeting’s facilitator, Monica Sumner (VP of Brandstetter & Carroll, the outside firm that did the year-long study), said, in effect, too many cooks spoil the broth: “whether it’s a joint board or a single unit of local government, (Parks & Recreation) needs ‘one source that controls the entity.'”

Reading about that meeting reminded me of something our forward-thinking and widely respected Boyle County State Representative Joe Clarke said 25 years ago: Local officials in Boyle County should “cease their turf battles and start working together on a plan for a merged government.” Joe talked about the “artificial political barriers that have resulted in duplication of services, too many taxing districts and other inefficiencies.”

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Our city and county officials have done all they can do to deal with parks & rec, our immediate need for a new jail costing tens of millions, a problematic tax base, and other pesky issues. We should thank them for the mostly thankless job they’re doing.

Still, when they get even a tiny bit ahead of their most pressing issues, wouldn’t it be good if they could take some time to imagine what a merged city/county government might look like? Not next year or the year after, mind you, but 5, 10, or 15 years from now? When you’re faced with all those trees, it’s hard to take time to think about the forest we all live in.

Milton Reigelman