Evansville-Vanderburgh County Government Consolidation Referendum, 2010

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The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Government Consolidation Referendum will appear on a November 2 ballot in Vanderburgh County.

This ended up not being approved for the November election.

Path to the ballot

A petition drive was started in the county to collect more than 2,600 signatures, or 5 percent of area registered voters, by October 15, 2009 to force a referendum question for public vote.

The League of Women Voters is backing a measure that would alter the Evansville government and change it to a city-county government consolidation, arguing that it would “streamline” the local government. According to the group, a consolidated government would also stimulate economic development because it would give businesses a simplified government that would enable them to better deal with local officials. According to Roberta Heiman, league president:"We believe it's time for serious consideration of all possible things that might improve the efficiency of local governments...We think, most of all, that it's time for the citizens to be allowed to vote on whether to do this."[1]

As of October 3rd, the petition had obtained half the amount of voters that it needs to enable a vote to be held on the issue. Little resistance to the consolidation had been found while members of the league were out collecting signatures. Some of those citizens in unincorporated areas of the county held fears that their taxes would increase with this consolidation, but with tax caps for the county that fear is unfounded. This is just the first step in government changes, noting that government efficiency is needed most at this time.[2] As of November 8th, the petition had obtain 75 percent of the signatures needed to get it to a vote.[3]

The petition has achieved its signature goal and will be on the November ballot for voters to decide on. The county clerk has verified over 2,700 signatures on the petition, giving it more than enough to qualify for the ballot. But before it can be put to a vote, both the county commission and the city council need to approve the consolidation.[4] The county commission has 30 days to decide on the issue, the League of Women Voters is hoping that it will not take the entire month to decide. The county commission seemed optimistic about the issue and noted that many were in favor of creating a more efficient government.[5]

December 16 the county commission agreed to hold a public hearing on the issue. The committee will hear both sides of the consolidation argument then have a year to give recommendations and put the issue to a vote if the governments agree to do so. The election board needs to certify the ballot question by August 1 in order for it to appear on the November ballot.[6]

The proposal has gone through its initial round of meetings, ending with a council decision to ensure that a simple majority of the voters is all that is needed for the measure to pass. They also agreed on a study about the effects the consolidation would have on the two communities. But the council only has till August 2 to finalize the ballot question in order for it to appear on the November ballot. Council members and citizens for the consolidation are pressing the issue and hoping to get finished before the deadline.[7]

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