Are You in Favor of Consolidated Government?

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

With eight separate cities in Bay County, turf wars have led to legal action and political infighting. Some county officials say things might run more smoothly if all the cities were dissolved into one big charter government.

County commissioners placed a referendum on the ballot asking voters if they'd favor consolidation. Some officials from cities around Bay County say you should think twice before voting in favor of consolidation.

"We all have problems, but I think Lynn Haven's problems would be compounded if we started consolidating issues," says Lynn Haven Mayor Walter Kelley.

"The county wholesales water to all of us, so we really to some extent are already consolidated in our water system, so I don't know how much more efficiency there is. Surely there's some, but not as much as the general perception," says Panama City Mayor Gerry Clemons.

The referendum is non-binding, meaning the county and city governments don't have to take action either way, but voters say they are happy they get to voice their opinion on the issue.

"We never know who to call when you have an emergency. This way you call one person and it's all taken care of," says Rebecca West, who voted in favor of consolidation.

"I voted against it because I think the smaller communities should keep their identity," says Charlie Brown, who is against consolidation.

Although consolidation isn't a new idea on an election ballot, these voters are happy the issue is being reevaluated.


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