Folks who live in Roberta and Crawford County will vote yes or no to consolidation on the November 8th ballot. State Representative Robert Dickey says several years ago citizens in the city and county asked him how they could push their hometown into the future. Dickey says he started talking to people about the idea of consolidation. In March, the charter pushed through the legislature. Claire Davis went to the city and county to find out your thoughts.
John Hudson and his son Hardy live down a long, quiet driveway in Crawford County. “I've lived here my whole life. I'm finishing up construction on a house now that I plan on living in the rest of my life, so I'm not moving away anytime soon,” said Hudson.
He wants Crawford County voters to approve the merger of the county and city of Roberta. “I think it streamlines a lot of processes. I don't think that Roberta or Crawford County is big enough to need two separate governments and two separate road departments and two separate law enforcement divisions,” said Hudson.
Earlier this year, State Representative Robert Dickey got the unification charter pushed through the legislature. Dickey says there will be new elections for five commissioners and services will be combined. “Everybody has to be reelected and I think that's a good thing. We don't have anything against the mayor, city council, or any county commissioners, but you're forming an entire new government, why not reelect everybody?,” said Hudson.
Dickey says if unification passes, taxes will drop and it will create a smaller government, but Patricia Bassett doesn't buy it. “If this goes through, then taxes will go down 1.5 mills, but it just went up 1.5 mills, so to me, that's not going down. That's kinda.... they've raised it so that when it goes down it's still the same amount,” said Bassett.
She's lived in Roberta since 1966, and when it comes to merging services and public safety, “The Sheriff has assured us that he would have a deputy that's assigned to the city, but that's one person when we've got a Police Department here and I don't think we would have near as much protection with one person assigned to the city,” said Bassett.
Dickey says the decision is up to voters and it will have to pass by a majority of voters in both the city and county.