Versailles City Council opens its consideration of city-county government merger

kward1@herald-leader.comAugust 19, 2014 

The Versailles City Council on Tuesday gave first reading to an ordinance that would create a commission to study a city-county government merger.

"I've gotten a lot of positive feedback around town," said Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott. "I feel good about the council approving it."

The council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its Sept. 2 meeting.

If Woodford County Fiscal Court approves the ordinance, it would also have to pass a similar ordinance to create a "unification review commission."

The commission could include public employees and elected officials but would be chaired by a resident, Traugott said.

He said the ordinance as written allows for the city government of Midway to participate also, but it is unknown whether Midway officials would do so.

"They'll have a seat at the table," he said. "I'll leave that up to them."

Traugott has said previously that "two prolonged battles with the county" over city-county funding of parks and recreation and joint funding of emergency management prompted the ordinance.

The dispute over parks and recreation is being resolved, but the fiscal court voted last week to end its participation in the funding of emergency management.

Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle said last week that he hadn't heard any conversation among citizens about interest in a merged government, and he did not know whether fiscal court magistrates would seek to put a similar ordinance on the county agenda.

Lexington, which is merged with Fayette County, and Louisville, which is merged with Jefferson County, are the only merged city-county governments in Kentucky. Voters rejected merger proposals in Franklin and Scott counties in 1988, Daviess and Warren counties in 1990, Taylor County in 2002, and Franklin County again in 2004. Somerset and Pulaski County studied a possible merger, and a unification commission released its findings in January, but there has been no movement beyond that.

Herald-Leader staff writer Greg Kocher contributed to this report. Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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