Guest column by Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to Hardin County United
Guest column by Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to Hardin County United
By: Rachel Collier – firstname.lastname@example.org
HARDIN County, Ky. (WDRB Fox 41) — Hardin County is one step closer to becoming the third largest community in Kentucky, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before it could happen.
A yellow shaded area shows where the majority of Hardin county residents live. “You have 85,000 people (in that area). That is easily the 3rd largest community in the state of Kentucky,” said Luke Schmidt, of Schmidt and Associates Consulting Firm.
Because the boundaries are dividing the cities, it is not the 3rd largest. Take those boundaries down and you have strength in numbers. In the past year, Luke Schmidt’s consulting firm has traveled to merged cities in Georgia and even to Lexington and Louisville. He says his team has learned that merging would be a plus for Hardin County, as well.
Hardin County United first needs to convince six city councils that merging is the right thing to do. Those cities are Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Vine Grove, West Point, Sonora, and Upton. “If any of the communities choose not to participate, they’re essentially left out of the process,” said Schmidt.
If those city councils decide to come up with a merger plan, voters have the final say. Hardin County Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard says the merger would streamline government and use tax dollars more efficiently.
But there is still a long road ahead. After all, it took Louisville three tries to merge.
The first informational meetings are next week. For local government officials, it is Wednesday at Hardin Memorial Hospital at 5:30PM.
The community forum is Thursday at John Hardin High School’s Performing Arts Center at 4:30PM.
If city councils approve, the public will vote in November of 2012.
If it is approved by voters, the merger would take about two years (2014) to go into effect.
The Honorable Ken Howard
Hardin Circuit Court Judge
Luke B. Schmidt, President
L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC
Effort Will Create Kentucky’s Third Largest Community, New Clout in Frankfort and Washington, and Streamline Government;
HCU to Request the Appointment of a Unification Review Commission
Elizabethtown, Kentucky (July 29, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today launched an initiative to develop unified government in Hardin County by announcing the findings of its year-long examination of the issue.
During the past year, HCU commissioned a study of unified government which was conducted by Louisville-based consulting firm, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC. HCU’s Governance Subcommittee, chaired by Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard, conducted community leadership meetings with groups representing law enforcement, fire protection, Fort Knox, state elected officials and federal elected officials. HCU also received presentations from former Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson and former Lexington-Fayette Urban County Mayor Foster Pettit on the issue of government unification.
Upon review of the issue, both HCU’s Governance Subcommittee and Steering Committee reached consensus and agreed that Hardin County would be well served with unified government, citing the following benefits:
“Hardin County is fortunate to have good local government in place,” said Ken Howard. “The real opportunity here is to take local government to the next level, to capitalize on the growth opportunities presented by base realignment and ongoing Army restructuring at Fort Knox and the Glendale mega site.”
“Unified government won’t necessarily save money, but what it will do is organize government more efficiently and eliminate duplication of effort,” said Howard. “Our research indicates that the rate of growth in the cost of public services has been shown to be reduced in unified governments, thereby reducing the need for frequent tax increases.”
The Hardin County Unified Government Study examined Hardin County’s existing local government structure along with five communities in Georgia and Kentucky that have been through the unification process. Some of the key findings from the Study include:
(By comparison, In the case of Columbus and Muscogee County, Georgia prior to unification, the community was governed by 44 jurisdictions and departments; with unification, that number was reduced to nine primary departments)
“Unification has provided major benefits to the communities that have been through the process,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “In every case, communities came together through unification and began speaking with one voice and the net result has been increased clout with state and federal governments, expanded economic development and increased representation for all citizens through unified government councils.”
“Unified government leads to less parochialism and forces government to conduct a ‘big picture’ analysis of issues with more progressive outcomes,” Schmidt continued. “We found out that economic development prospects like to deal with one government, and in the case of Lexington, unified government is one of the four cornerstones that help to sell Lexington as a place to do business.”
Going forward, HCU plans to take the leadership role in educating and informing the Hardin County community and each government entity about the facts of unified government by speaking to various groups and interested parties.
HCU is hosting an information session open to all elected local government officials on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at Hardin Memorial Hospital’s fifth floor conference room beginning at 5:30 PM.
Citizens are invited to HCU’s community forum which will be held on Thursday, August 4, 2011, at the Hardin County Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School, 384 W.A. Jenkins Road, Elizabethtown, and beginning at 4:30 PM. Interested citizens are encouraged to attend.
HCU also plans to approach each local government entity beginning in September and request the passage of an ordinance which will create a Unification Review Commission (pursuant to Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapters 67.900 – 67.940). Members of the Commission (which will include between 20 and 40 citizens) will be appointed by those local government entities that choose to participate. The Commission will be charged with the task of developing a specific plan of unified government which will be presented to the voters to approve in November 2012.
Additional information on this issue can be found on HCU’s Web site (www.hcu.lbschmidt.com).
Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.
Hardin Circuit Judge Ken Howard told a roomful of elected officials Wednesday that Hardin County is in an age of prosperity and growth, which is the perfect time to consider looking at a unified local government. Without a crisis hanging over their heads or their backs against the wall, a more reasoned and careful examination of unification can be taken, he said. Howard, chairman of the Hardin County United Governance Subcommittee, partnered with consultant Luke Schmidt to walk elected officials through a comprehensive study Schmidt’s firm conducted that analyzed five unified governments in Georgia and Kentucky.
Video news report on the launch of Hardin County United’s study of consolidated government.
Article originally posted by The (Elizabethtown) News-Enterprise directed to:http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/hardin-united-study-consolidated-government-potential
By Jeff D’Alessio
Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm (Updated: November 13, 8:43 pm)
The first formal project by Hardin County United (HCU) will include a study of consolidated government and its potential for the Greater Hardin County community.
“It reached a point that it became more than a group of volunteers could do,’’ said Ken Howard, HCU Governance Subcommittee chairman. “We needed the staff and assistance to get all the work to get done.’’
Working through a contract with Lincoln Trail Area Development District, Louisville-based consulting firm L.B. Schmidt and Associates has been retained to conduct the study. The study is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment. Luke Schmidt will serve as the project’s consultant. He also served as a consultant for the Hardin County Vision Project on behalf of Hardin County government and is working with the Elizabethtown Airport Board to secure passenger airline service at the Elizabethtown Regional Airport
The study of consolidated government options for Hardin County follows-up on a principal theme from the previously concluded Hardin County Vision Project which calls for a unification of purpose for the community by streamlining areas where duplication now exists and speak ing with one voice, according to a news release. The study is expected to be presented to the community in the spring of 2011. Howard called that timetable “reasonably optimistic.’’
“You can study these things forever,’’ he said. “With Luke on board to do the leg work, the ground work, we can start making recommendations.’’
Hardin County United Chairman and Judge-Executive Harry Berry said in the release, “The results of the Vision Project clearly indicate a preference for exploring opportunities to consolidate various facets of the community for the purpose of improving the efficiency of the delivery of government services. The success of One Knox in securing state funds to facilitate the expansion of the community’s infrastructure to accommodate the growth at Fort Knox shows how important it is for the Hardin County community to speak with one voice. This study will illustrate how this concept might be formalized to the benefit of the entire community.”
The Vision Project began in July with the selection of Schmidt to coordinate research and analysis, followed by brainstorming sessions and a 30-page survey completed by 70 community leaders and stakeholders.
The project will begin with an examination of existing government structures in Hardin County – including county government and the six municipal governments. This examination will provide a baseline.
Howard said other consolidated government communities would be examined, such as Athens/
Clarke County, Georgia; Augusta/Richmond County, Georgia;Columbus/Muscogee County, Ga.; Lexington/Fayette County; Louisville Metro; and, Nashville/Davidson County, Tenn.
Howard said public forums also would be held. “We’re not going to have forums until we have something to report to them,’’ he said. “We don’t simply want to have a public forum and ask the question about whether you are in favor or not of a consolidated government. We want them (the public) to see some work that was done so they can see what it could possibly look like.’’
“As this project moves forward, we will not lose sight of the good work that is being done every day in the existing government jurisdictions,” Schmidt said in the release. “The question is how can we improve upon the existing structure?”
Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757