Consolidation isn't a done deal yet - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Consolidation isn't a done deal yet

December 14, 2004

Albany- Some Albany commissioners want more information before giving consolidation the go ahead. A day after talking to county leaders, the consolidation study committee recommended the unification of city and county services and governments to city commissioners.

Some weren't too receptive to the idea.

Firefighters are "Semper Vigilante"-- always ready for the next call for help. If your house caught on fire, the Albany Fire Department would respond, whether you lived in the city limits or not. "If you dial 911, we come. And it's the same level of response and same amount of equipment in the city or county," said Assistant Chief James Carswell.

But that's not the case with the city and county police departments which are still separate. Which department responds, depends on your address. Consolidation would change that. "Why can't we try it here?" asked committee member Rev. Rance Pettibone.

One after another, members of the consolidation study committee told city commissioners unifying services and governments would save money and time. "We're so close right now, it seems fool-hearty not to push it farther," said Dr. Ira Roth, committee member.

All 20 committee members are pushing consolidation farther. Now, the county and city commissions must vote to draft a new charter.

Commissioner Bo Dorough said, "I'm confident we'll proceed with the process."

Dorough says consolidation would stop the fight over projects. "There will be no disagreement about priorities."

But other commissioners voted to table a decision to draw up a charter until they can get some questions answered-- such as who will draft the charter and what it will look like. "It is almost impossible for us to answer questions about a charter that hasn't been written," said Rev. Rance Pettibone.

And writing that charter could take up to ten months. "Hopefully by 2006, we can request legislation from the General Assembly, which means 2007 is when this issue would be presented to the voters," said Dorough.

Voters, who like the firefighters who serve them, will be asked to be ready to act and make a decision that could change the future of Albany.

Tonight at 11:00, we'll tell you why some opponents of consolidation say it will hurt blacks.

posted at 5:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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