Merger proposal deserves strong consideration

By Chuck Kajer

For the past year, the cities of New Market and Elko have been studying the benefits and the pitfalls of a potential merger. The study culminated in a report with a plan for cooperation and combination. With no major opposition at last week’s public hearings, the two city councils are expected to approve a joint resolution at their respective meetings next week, and a referendum will be held Tuesday, March 21.

A merger has a lot of potential benefits to residents of the two growing communities. As both cities grow, they would need additional staff to accommodate their needs. As stated in the plan, a merger would avoid duplication in management staff that will be needed in both cities. It would allow the merged city to add specialized staff in community development and financial management, and it would eliminate the contracts for shared services between the cities for police and fire service and the joint sewer board that oversees the cities’ shared sewer system.

By combining, the merged city would be able to provide better services at a lower cost to its residents. Financial projections indicate a savings of $2.9 million in expenditures over a 10-year period. In addition, the combined population of the two cities would reach 5,000 by the year 2009, making the merged city eligible for state aid for streets.

Residents of these two communities should strongly consider approving the proposed merger. Sharing of services between the two communities will no doubt continue if the merger proposal fails, but the advantage of a full merger will have a greater benefit for taxpayers.

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