Ken de la Bastide, Kokomo Tribune Enterprise Editor

The Howard County Commissioners have approved the formation of a 12-person committee to begin the process of determining what direction government consolidation will take.

The commissioners on Monday called for the creation of the Citizens Committee for Consolidation (CCC). It will include four appointments by the county, four by the city of Kokomo and two each from Russiaville and Greentown.

Commissioner Dave Trine said he delivered an invitation to Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight’s office an hour prior to Monday’s meeting. Goodnight said Monday evening he left town with his family early Monday afternoon and did not receive the invitation.

“We need the city to be on board and hope that together we can make additional consolidations a reality,” the commissioners wrote Goodnight. “We are positive that with a little hard work both county and city can come together to implement more cost-effective procedures for the betterment of our community.”

Kokomo and Howard County already have inter-local agreements in place on operating a joint Plan Commission, Weights and Measures department and the Emergency Management Agency.

Talks have taken place in the past to consolidate emergency dispatch services for law enforcement and municipal stormwater services.

The proposal calls for the appointment of 12 members for one-year terms. No elected or appointed members of city- or county-government boards or commissioners can serve on the consolidation committee, the plan says.

Appointments should be diverse, bi-partisan and represent different townships.

The commissioners want the CCC to be a voice for the residents of Howard County, present consolidation solutions for review to city and county officials and request adoption of resolutions where needed.

The CCC will schedule regular meetings that will be open to the public with the understanding that any resident can present a consolidation proposal for review.

Trine said Monday the county wants to assure everyone that it is working hard to make consolidation work.

“Consolidation is not new,” he said. “One aspect of consolidation is inter-local agreements. This Board of Commissioners, in cooperation with the city, has implemented or reviewed several inter-local agreements over the last year, and we have much more to do. But what do the citizens of Howard County want?”

Trine said members of the committee would not be paid for their time.

Kokomo Common Council member Bob Cameron, who attended the commissioners meeting, called the proposal interesting.

Cameron said he preferred that no current or previously elected or appointed official serve on the committee.

“This is a step in the right direction,” he said. “They [city and county officials] haven’t been able to get things done. There needs to be citizen involvement.”

County Councilman Paul Wyman, R-2nd District, asked if there is a timeline for when the formal process of consolidation would begin.

Trine said formation of the committee would take place as soon as there is a response from the city.

“This is not a formal resolution, it is a proposal,” Commissioner Tyler Moore said. “It’s a volunteer committee to begin looking at the direction to go. Let’s get moving.”

Goodnight raised the issue of government consolidation during his annual State of the City address and urged the creation of a citizens committee to make recommendations to the two governmental entities.