Merger plan has merits

By Chuck Kajer

Voters in the cities of Elko and New Market will decide March 21 whether the two cities should combine forces or continue as they have for more than 100 years as neighbors looking across the road from each other.

The two cities, which share a common border along Scott County Road 91 (Natchez Avenue) are roughly the same size and both are poised to see tremendous growth over the next 10 years. It is the growth, and its cost, which make the merger attractive to city officials.

The two communities each had a population of less than 500 in the 2000 census. Now, both cities are nearing 1,500 in population. If the cities were to merge, it is estimated that there would be a combined population of more than 5,000 by the year 2009. Cities over 5,000 in population become eligible for additional state aid for maintenance and construction of streets.

As the cities continue to grow, there will be a corresponding demand for city services. Without the merger, there would be a duplication of efforts on the part of the two cities in planning, in street work, in parks and in other city services.

The cities of New Market and Elko have a history of cooperating in public ventures. The cities operate a joint sewer board, the city of Elko offers police service to New Market and the New Market Fire Department serves Elko as well as the surrounding township.

Studies have shown that residents of a combined city can expect lower property taxes down the road as a result of the merger.

In order for the merger to take place, a majority of voters in both New Market and Elko must vote in favor of it. After more than a year of studying the pros and cons of a merger, city officials have put forward a good argument in favor of the move. They are asking residents to go to the polls and make themselves heard on March 21. The cities have done their homework on this issue and stated their case. A merger makes sense for both New Market and Elko.

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