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2/18/2012 2:13:00 PM
Howard County government consolidation talks currently stalled

Ken de la Bastide, Kokomo Tribune Enterprise Editor

Four months after Howard County indicated its interest in government consolidation, not activity has taken place.

Last October, the Howard County Commissioners voted to pass a resolution to formalize a committee to oversee government consolidation discussions. The process included asking Kokomo and Russiaville to participate in consolidation talks under the guidelines of the Government Modernization Act.

It was the second resolution approved by the commissioners, and it was also approved by Russiaville. The Greentown Town Council decided not to participate.

Kokomo has not considered a resolution to take part in a committee under the Government Modernization Act since the Common Council passed a similar resolution in 2010, asking the county to participate.

At the time, the commissioners opted to form the Citizens Committee for Consolidation, which was disbanded by the county in 2011, but continues to meet as a group of private citizens.

Jeff Lipinski, president of the Russiaville Town Council, said the original resolution was approved by the town, but no action has been taken on the second one.

“We’ve not done anything with the second resolution,” he said. “We’re interested in what they have to say and move forward.”

Lipinski said Russiaville is waiting for Kokomo to approve the resolution.

“I don’t believe we will be a stumbling block,” he said. “Most of the council members who supported it in the past are still on the council.”

Commissioner Paul Wyman said after approval by the county, Kokomo indicated it would consider the resolution after the first of the year.

“I would like to see us continue to move forward with government reform,” he said. “The Government Modernization Act is a larger format. We can continue to focus on areas of consolidation, like the combined dispatch center.”

The make-up of the committee has remained a stumbling block. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight has previously indicated that representation should be based on population and not an equal number appointed by all the participating governmental units.

City officials could not be reached last week for comment on the status of the Government Modernization Act resolution.

Once Kokomo, Russiaville and Howard County approve the resolution, discussions will begin on the formation of a committee and a budget.

The committee has one year to make recommendations to the three government entities. If approved, the recommendations for government consolidation go to a referendum vote of all county residents for final approval.

Related Stories:
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• State authorities say county government may reorganize, attorney says
• EDITORIAL: Indiana Legislature strikes blow against nepotism, conflict
• There's been slow progress on efforts to reform local government

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