Consolidation Debate In Montgomery County Heats Up

Posted: 5:29 PM, Oct 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-15 23:30:19Z

As the consolidation debate heats up in Montgomery County, voters want answers. 

"The debt of the county and the city combined is $967 million. They will not tell us, and they can't tell us, how much it will cost to consolidate," Terry Miksic said.

Terry and B.J. Miksic retired in the Woodlawn community. They're afraid consolidation will be expensive so they joined the group "No to consolidation."

"Even though they said it's not going to affect our taxes, the research we've done says of course it's going to, and it will be in a couple years," Miksic said.

Consolidation supporters like Bob Yates believe joining governments will help hold elected officials accountable. 

Yates said, "It's a way for us to eliminate those competing interests and make the government work for us."

Yates mentioned the 'nepotism policy' in the proposed consolidation charter which would prevent commissioners from also being county employees.

Yates said, "They potentially could be voting for their own pay increase."

Bob Yates is with "Our United Community."

He believes that a consolidated government would attract industry too. However, people who oppose it believe it will be more trouble than it's worth. For example, The Montgomery County Sheriff's Department would merge with the Clarksville Police Department. The Sheriff would be the chief law enforcement officer.

"Just to tie up police radios to the sheriff's department could cost in the neighborhood of $35 million and then you're talking cars and uniforms and that's just money," Miksic said.

Yates said those costs remain up in the air. He said merging the police and sheriff's department is a matter of public safety. For example, in a manhunt situation, it's imperative that agencies are on the same radio frequency.  

"I'm a small government person, I'm all about efficiency in government and I think that this is a great opportunity for a new government to put those things in place," Yates said.

The Clarksville Chief of Police Al Ansley opposes consolidation. Ansley has indicated he wouldn't stick around to become a "chief deputy" according to a press release issued by the City of Clarksville communication director. 

Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan is not against consolidation, but she is against this particular charter.

She issued a statement in part,

"I do not oppose government consolidation in principle, but I do not support this specific charter that will go before voters Nov. 6. It has serious flaws and is not in the best interest of taxpayers, both those in the City of Clarksville and those in the unincorporated areas of Montgomery County. It doesn’t outline a clear path to reduce costs to taxpayers and it doesn’t present a measurable plan to reduce the size of government while protecting the rights of current employees of City and County government. ne of the biggest flaws is the way the consolidation plan would deal with law enforcement. This charter would effectively abolish the Clarksville Police Department, which is a fully accredited, high performing and acclaimed department, operating under a highly trained professional Chief of Police. Years of investment by City of Clarksville taxpayers into a well-staffed, well-equipped, modern police force should not be sacrificed in a flawed design for consolidation." 

To read the full proposed charter go  here .