Kokomo — The Kokomo Common Council signaled Monday it’s ready to discuss consolidating local units of government, voting to form a consolidation study committee.

The move comes one week after county officials voted to study consolidating specific government services.

Now it’s up to city and county officials to find common ground in their separate proposals.

Monday’s city council vote calls for creating a study committee under the auspices of the Indiana Government Modernization Act.

That 2006 law enabled local governments to voluntarily combine.

The Town of Zionsville remains the only locale to use the law’s voluntary consolidation provisions to date. But several other units of Indiana local government are considering the same path, given the reality of tax caps and decreasing local revenues.

“I believe that those officials who are willing to make changes and reconsider what we do will survive, and those that don’t ... will have great difficulty,” Councilman Mike Karickhoff, R-At Large, said after Monday’s vote.

In contrast, the resolution passed last week by the Howard County Commissioners did not cite the Modernization Act.

The county’s resolution called for the creation of a 12-member Citizens Committee for Consolidation.

But Monday, city council members indicated the county’s proposal wouldn’t allow for true government consolidation, since it didn’t conform to the Modernization Act’s rules.

“They’re outside the law, as much as I could read it,” Council President Mike Kennedy, D-At Large, said during a public council caucus prior to the meeting. “They went ahead and did it without us.”

Karickhoff said the county’s resolution “wasn’t set in stone,” and said if the county decided not to act on the city’s resolution, the city and county “could work simultaneously.”

Some city and county services can be merged through inter-local agreements, such as the agreements establishing the Kokomo/Howard County Plan Commission and the Howard County Emergency Management Agency.

County officials already have indicated they’d be willing to work on consolidating services before making any decision on government consolidation.

Any move to consolidate services would still require approval from both the city and county councils, the mayor and the county commissioners.

Consolidating local government under the Modernization Act would also require a public referendum.

The city resolution passed Monday gives the county 30 days to approve a similar resolution.

If the county signs off, both city and county officials would begin the process of appointing a citizen committee to gather information, conduct public hearings, and finally, to prepare a comprehensive consolidation plan.

The plan would then go back to the respective elected officials for approval, before going to the public referendum.

Monday, however, some city council members questioned whether county officials would be interested in discussing city/county consolidation.

“To me, it just looks like we’re trying to jockey who can get to this resolution quicker,” Councilman Kevin Summers, R-At Large, said.

“What bothers me is we’re all going to get into this argument again and we can’t get along with anybody,” Councilman Bob Cameron, D-2nd, said.

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