Sullivan County softens proposal to consolidation study

J. H. Osborne • Feb 5, 2007 at 11:39 AM

BLOUNTVILLE - The fat lady hasn't yet sung about consolidation in Sullivan County.

Sullivan County Commissioner John McKamey is once again asking fellow commissioners to vote in favor of a committee on consolidation. But this time around, McKamey is making sure the committee's only task would be to study consolidation - not produce a charter to actually merge city and county governments.

The County Commission last month endorsed a McKamey-sponsored push for creation of a committee to develop a charter for consolidation of Sullivan County and city of Kingsport governments.

That resolution was based on a state law for creation of such a group, and would eventually have brought a proposal for metro government to a vote by city and county residents.

But for the effort to go anywhere, state law requires a like endorsement from the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The BMA talked about the issue within a few hours of the County Commission's vote in favor of the committee - and the whole idea was considered DOA at City Hall.

The BMA didn't vote on the matter, but a clear consensus against the charter committee emerged among BMA members.

Some said they wouldn't mind if the county wanted to study consolidation, but they wouldn't support development of an actual charter - by a group without their input.

State law says a charter committee - what the County Commission endorsed with its vote last month - is made up of people appointed by the mayors of the city and county.

On Monday, McKamey said he wants the County Commission to vote this month to create a committee to study consolidation.

His resolution does not specify how the study committee's members would be determined.

Five of his fellow commissioners, all members of the commission's Administrative Committee, endorsed such a move.

The proposal will go to the commission's Executive Committee on Wednesday and then to the Budget Committee on Thursday.

It will be on the full commission's agenda as "first reading" on Feb. 19. That means it would need 16 votes in favor to be adopted. If McKamey doesn't call for a vote on Feb. 19 and leaves the resolution on the commission's agenda for March, it would only require 13 votes to be adopted.

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