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Spartan

SC County Consolidations

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"In a surprising move Monday night, Cherokee County Council members voted unanimously to hold a referendum that would allow voters to decide whether to consolidate city and county governments."

It will be on the Nov 06 ballot.

Source

This would be a first in SC, and certainly an unlikely first. We have discussed that Richland or Greenville would be a more likely first. This move would make the City of Gaffney coterminous with Cherokee County (except for the Town of Blacksburg) and would have a population of roughly 53,000- making it rank high among the state's cities.

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That is surprising for Cherokee County, especially since I knew someone that was a county planner there over 5 years ago & quit do to non-support. I'm not sure what or if any land use policy has been established - but that is a quick turn around if that is the case.

But what would be the benefit of a largely rural county to incorporate?

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My question exactly. I'm really hoping that Greenville comes around so that the population statistics can be more accurately reflected for starters.

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I think the edvantage is that the City already provides alot of services to the county, so it would simplify things. Taxes and everythign are already rediculously cheap in Cherokee County, so anyhting less would be significant.

I don't really have all the answers here either, so if anyone else has a clue, please chime in. The big question is how will the voters look at this? What will they vote for?

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Ok, some more info on this consolidation thing:

It would be a way to "streamline" duplicated services.

Currently the County provides trash pick-up service to Blacksburg and Gaffney. Cherokee is the only county in SC to do this, and the residents of the incorporated areas have to subsidize this service for the county.

Apparantly this has been considered before back in 1994, but the article says "it lost steam."

"The next step, according to state law, is for county and city leaders to appoint an 18-member governmental charter commission.

The commission would decide -- through public hearings -- how services would be unified, how many commissioners would serve on the new governmental body and all other details pertaining to the consolidation and the new charter."

Source

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Some time ago, vicupstate posted an editorial about why SC governments lack power, and the following was stated:

A reasonable solution would be for a city and county to consolidate once counties make the turn from rural to urban. But the Legislature has refused to allow that. Twenty years after voters demanded it, the General Assembly finally passed a law in 1992 that claimed to allow city-county consolidation; but local officials quickly found that the way the law was written made any merger a technical impossibility.

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I give a standing ovation to the Cherokee County Council for their foresight. A unanimous vote is impressive. I hope this at least gets to the ballot. Cherokee is an excellent candidate, not only because of the aforementioned examples, but also because...

** Cherokee is geographically very small, thus consolidation would probably be much easier to implement, and easier to manage once in effect.

** There are only two incorporated cities/towns. Only one town, Blacksburg would have any concern about losing it's identity. Most likely, it would still exist as a town regardless.

** Cherokee tends to be the 'runt' of the upstate 'litter', but this would certainly help them stand out in certain ways.

As far as I know, Charleston is the only county to actually take a vote on consolidation, and that was in 1974. If this effort did succeed, close to a miracle BTW, it would no doubt encourage others to at least look into that option.

Greenwood and Sumter are also good candidates for consolidation,IMO, based on the logistics/politics.

Just think, if this happened, Gaffney-Cherokee would be the biggest city in the upstate by population, and by far the biggest in the state in land area.

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Gaffney-Cherokee would still be smaller in population than the City of Greenville. Approximately 53,000 for the former and 56,000 for the latter. Close though.

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That still places the possibly future Gaffney-Cherokee in the top 10. I guess SC would have its own "octopus" (eg, Jacksonville FL).

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I could also see Calhoun, Chester, and Colleton counties having some sort of consolidation. Outside of the county seat, there isn't much in those counties.

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I think it work s for Cherokee because it is a geographically small county. Much of its growth is in areas like Grassy Pond and Macedonia, which are on the western end of the county. It appers to me to be a less concentrated growth. Not full of subdivisions, but mostly single-family structures. These and other areas could potentially become urban in the next 20 years. A consolidation may make it easier for Cherokee to manage growth once the big subdivisions and other sprawly things start to spill over from Spartanburg.

Chester and these other counties you mentioned are somewhat large, and in some cases they are actually loosing population. I don' think they will consolidate. I do think that this may set off a chain reaction in other places though.

Vic mentioned Sumter and Greenwood being possibilities, and I agree with those choises, particularly Sumter, since it has such a concentrated population. Florence would be a good candidate too.

It may encorange Richland to actually give it a shot this time, and who knows, maybe Charleston will try again.

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The WYFF ch. 4 website carolinanesachannel.com has a video on the effort to consolidate Cherokee County. I can't view it for some reason. Can someone watch it , and post the gist of the story?

I was wondeering what was happening with this. Cherokee is an ideal choice as an SC to try this IMO.

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I agree. Let's see how it works on a smaller scale, then our larger metros can consider whether or not it would work in their favor.

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OK, here is the gist of the story:

Cherokee County councilman Charles Mathis is proposing a referendum on consolidation which could show up on the Nov. 2006 ballot. He recognizes that there is a three-fold duplication of services (e.g., administration, law enforcement, sanitation, etc.) resulting from the separate operations of the city of Gaffney, the town of Blacksburg, and the county itself, which is too much for a small county of a little more than 50,000. It would help the citizens of Cherokee County, particularly residents of Gaffney and Blacksburg, save money. Ten years ago, the subject was brought up and shot down. However, this time around, some citizens are definitely in favor of it. The mayor of Gaffney, Henry Jolly, hasn't made up his mind about it yet; he says he wants "what the people want." There will be three upcoming public hearings on the issue.

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Consilidating services in smaller populated counties can be a good thing. I hope it goes through.

It would be nice to see Greenville County consolidate some services, but it would not work out for Greer and Fountain Inn. Both cities are spread across two counties.

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I think that for Greenville a better solution would be the quasi-merging of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and the establishment of expansion zones for its cities. As I understand it, that would eleminate the need for a new town to be created, since the city and county are sessentially the same thing administratively.

As for Cherokee, I still think that it would be a good thing. I am interested tos see how it works out.

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Consilidating services in smaller populated counties can be a good thing.  I hope it goes through.

It would be nice to see Greenville County consolidate some services, but it would not work out for Greer and Fountain Inn.  Both cities are spread across two counties.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Greenville city and county could consolidate without including the other smaller towns in the county. For example, Jacksonville-Duval in FL does not include some of the smaller towns in Duval County. Also, I wonder if a city and county could not consolidate even if a small part of the city extends into an adjacent county. These are interesting questions and are the areas where consolidation gets pretty odd.

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^I brought up that same inquiry regarding a possible Columbia-Richland merger, being that part of Columbia is located in Lexington County.

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Consilidating services in smaller populated counties can be a good thing. I hope it goes through.

It would be nice to see Greenville County consolidate some services, but it would not work out for Greer and Fountain Inn. Both cities are spread across two counties.

Nor do I, as a Greer resident, hope that happens. I'd be fine if Greer became an "independent city", as many are in Virginia. We can tax ourselves, pay for our own schools...chart our own destiny. I doubt current SC law would allow for this, but think about it. How many other SC cities might go for "independent" status if it was allowed?

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This article indicates that Union County is also looking to consolidate as part of an effort to reduce expenses. As such I have adjusted the title of this thread,

http://www.goupstate.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art.../512020321/1022

Even though I am a member, I could get the link to open. Is Union thinking of functional consolidation (merging functions across both governements) or political consolidation (actual merging of governments)?

How are things going for Cherokee?

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I get the impression that it is a consolidation in the true sense of the word. Think Augusta-Richmond or Athens-Clarke.

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Nor do I, as a Greer resident, hope that happens. I'd be fine if Greer became an "independent city", as many are in Virginia. We can tax ourselves, pay for our own schools...chart our own destiny. I doubt current SC law would allow for this, but think about it. How many other SC cities might go for "independent" status if it was allowed?

An interesting idea; I know it would require some legal and perhaps constitutional changes in SC - the Virginia arrangement with independent cities is part of their constitution, unique to VA. "Towns" in Virginia are part of the county they are located within, whereas "cities" are essentially counties unto themselves.

The legislature can approve an upgrade - the town of Galax (in Grayson and Carroll Counties) became the Independent City Of Galax years ago, and it can also be part of a consolidation, though this is more complex: the Independent Cities of Suffolk and Nansemond were merged with Nansemond County to form the City Of Suffolk, which technically would've been a legislatively-approved merger of three "counties" into one "city" covering 800+ suare miles.

Given the annexation laws in SC and the ease of incorporating small suburban outposts, I think the Gaffney-Cherokee move is very forward-thinking for a number of reasons. Cherokee is a small rural county along a state line between two swiftly growing urban areas of more than a million people. This would allow for a streamlined planning and management of the growth that comes to Cherokee (it will hit them from both directions eventually), a way to set an acceptable pace and even out county-wide infrastucture needs now and in the future. Aesthetically - again - you have one set of standards, avoiding a patchwork of sprawl-rural-urbanist-strip mall-etc chaos. The kind of duplication of services that almost bankrupted Jacksonville-Duval (and it's vast pre-consolidation patchwork of towns, cities and municipalities) wouldn't occur.

As the I-85 corridor urbanizes, and a thread of development fills in between Anderson SC and Durham NC, Cherokee's planning now for what might not materialize for a few decades (but will eventually) is a move that will make for a solid future.

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