Area can learn from consolidation veteran

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

The city of Columbus, Ga., which merged its government with the surrounding county more than 30 years ago, has become an example for other communities in the state of Georgia interested in consolidating their governments.

Columbus officials found the process brought them many benefits, but it is not a process that came easily. Several years of study and debate led up to a city and county vote that finally allowed the consolidation of the Columbus and Muscogee County governments.

As Natchez and Adams County officials weigh the pros and cons of such a merger, we can learn from what happened in Columbus.

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Among the most important aspects of the process for folks in Columbus was the involvement of the public. In addition to appointing commissions and committees to investigate the feasibility of consolidation and then to form the government itself, the community held public meetings, allowed ample time for comment and criticism and publicized the results of those open forums.

That kind of open process is going to be necessary if we are to take steps toward consolidated government.

Columbus officials say opening the process to the public at every step was the way to gain public support &045;&045; and public trust.

We urge Adams County and Natchez officials to do the same as they work toward a plan of action and the possibility of consolidation.