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Hardin United to study consolidated government potential

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Public forums will be held

By Jeff D'Alessio

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.