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Is Consolidated Government in Barrow County's Future?

Upon study of consolidation, it might prove to be a big mistake.

With changes in the city limit borders of Winder, one cannot help but wonder when these annexations will end.

There is no doubt that Barrow County is on the move and the years ahead look good with continued projected growth in business, industry and residences. After seeing empty land for so many years along the 316 corridor, we are beginning to see growth occur. Some people welcome the growth, while others respond in a negative way regarding any type of growth. Growth brings change. With new businesses, retail, restaurants and smaller specialty shops opening we will have new people moving into the county buying houses. More out-of-county tags can be spotted in the parking lots of the shopping centers and large box stores in our county already. Increases in shoppers and more people from within the county shopping locally means increased money from tax revenue into the coffers of the government.

With the increase and growth there are questions that arise. One of the questions is will the county be able to service all the needs of the growth that is occurring? Another question is are we seeing Winder make a move to try and expand in order to realize the increased revenue into their coffers rather than the money going to the county? Another question that has been used in hushed tones for several years is the one regarding consolidation. In some parts of the county consolidation is a bad word, in others there are people beginning to ask if the time has come to consider, or at least begin to think about, what a consolidated government would look like. There are those who immediately respond by bringing up all the negatives regarding consolidation. The biggest negative seems to be loss of control by certain segments of the population. Others point out that during consolidation there is always a certain segment of the county/city government that would not be serviced as well as they were before consolidation of the governments.

I am not an advocate for or against consolidation. I only raise the issue in this column because there is much talk around town concerning the expansion of the city limit of Winder and the issue of which government will be called on to provide safety and fire protection for the newly expanded properties. I can see the negatives to a consolidated government by placing too much power in the hands of only a few people. I can also see that an expanded group of representatives serving on an enlarged governing body would be called upon to represent every segment of the newly formed government. Upon study of consolidation it might be determined to be the biggest mistake ever made. It could be also that upon study, the positives would outweigh the negatives and it could prove to be a wise decision. From where I stand, maybe the time is now when a study should be conducted concerning consolidation of our county.

Would you be for or against consolidation of governments in Barrow County? Tell us in comments. 

Follow Ray Newman on Twitter — @RayNewmanSr.

Michael Robinson December 10, 2012 at 09:06 PM
A lot of questions have to be asked first. What would it look like? How have other consolidated governments turned out? Athens is the nearest example available, and it seems to do ok. It did better than the region during the recession even though it's mostly poor college students. What can we learn from other examples? How do we account for the failings? How do we improve on the success? Are those successes and failures a result of the consolidation, or were they coincidental with an already competent government? Many questions, and no answers from the many articles written on it.
Ray Newman December 10, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Many questions must be asked and real answers sought before the county goes down that road. There are several areas in GA. that have gone down the road to consolidation, much can be learned from their experience. School systems consolidated many years ago in some counties, including Barrow.

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