Count State Rep. Bill Jackson and Grovetown resident Rosa Lee Owens out of all this consolidation talk.
"That's a bad word in my vocabulary," Owens said.
While several people attending a Monday meeting hosted by Columbia County's legislative delegation called for a slow, thorough study of consolidation, Owens and Jackson were firmly against the idea.
"Put me down as against it," Jackson said.
Other officials weren't so harsh. State Rep. Ben Harbin said it's too early in the process to fully write off consolidation.
"We want to ask some questions," he said. "And I think they'll be answered before this process is over."
Commission Chairman Barry Fleming said officials are considering consolidation for several reasons:
there could be $5 million in franchise fees for a consolidated government
residents in both cities could save on taxes and water and sewer bills
a consolidated government could eliminate much of the duplication in services currently offered by the cities and county.
But Harbin wondered how those reasons will sell a consolidated government to residents in Martinez and Evans, where a bulk of the population lives. If the issue is put to voters - which legislators have promised, if the issue moves forward - it's the residents of the urban area that can approve or kill consolidation.
"You have to convince those folks also," he said.
Meanwhile, Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau said he was concerned about what consolidation would mean to his city.
"You'd lose the family feeling we have in both Harlem and Grovetown," he said.
Trudeau also talked about the redrawn district maps for both the county commission and the board of education. During a December meeting, Trudeau asked that Harlem and Grovetown be split into separate commission districts. That, he said, would allow the cities to double their representation on the board.
Instead, splitting the cities between districts would dilute their power with voters from Martinez and Evans.
"I'm changing my mind," he said. "I have an option to do that."
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