Lake Norman & Mooresville

Towns opposed to county, city merging

Officials in the three North Mecklenburg towns said last week that they are opposed to political consolidation between the county and Charlotte, although additional functional consolidation may be something they'd support.

Last week, Huntersville commissioners unanimously approved a resolution saying they opposed any type of governmental or political consolidation between the two jurisdictions.

Officials in Cornelius and Davidson also said they would be against such a consolidation.

"It is very difficult to imagine that the towns in Mecklenburg would agree to consider political consolidation," said Davidson Mayor John Woods.

Since winning re-election, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has touted the idea of fully merging the city and county governments.

His plan includes combining political roles - such as the manager and the mayor and other elected offices - as well as functional roles within various departments.

Since the 1950s, the city and county have consolidated more than 20 departments and services, including police, water and sewer, schools, elections and parks.

Recently, Foxx suggested that city staff study the consolidation of four more services: government TV, human resources, Fire/MEDIC and issuing of permits.

While Foxx has said a full consolidation would save money, some officials are skeptical.

Cornelius Commissioner David Gilroy said full consolidation "would be insane."

"We have profoundly local issues which need local representation to manage effectively," he said. "Taking the CMUD approach to the full array of activities, initiatives, and challenges in Cornelius would be a disaster," Gilroy said, referring to the merged Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department.

Gilroy said a full consolidation would lead to the degradation of services and a feeling among residents in the smaller municipalities that they're being underrepresented.

Woods also mentioned a loss of community identity as a concern, although he said the town would consider suggestions. "We are open-minded to the ideas of additional functional consolidation, with the hope that real cost savings and true service improvement can be accomplished," said Woods.

He cited how successful such consolidations have been in the past, particularly with the merging of water and sewer systems several decades ago as well as the city and county school systems' merger in the 1950s.

"There are, nevertheless, examples of functional consolidation that have created positive influences in the greater community," Woods said.

"These examples confirm the fact that functional consolidation can bring benefits, especially in capital-intensive services."