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andremurra

Statesboro: Government Issues

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This is a new thread for government issues in the city/county area. From city council controversies to city-county partnership alliances, this is the place to discuss the current struggles and triumphs of government services, politics and prospective initiatives. Keep it civil.

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The Statesboro Herald reported that discussions of city-county consolidation has been on the table for at least four years now, and Bulloch County is now preparing to put their half of the money down for a feasibility study. Though there is no official word on the city council putting their money down, this is a new exciting approach that could have many positive and perhaps some negative outcomes, depending on who you talk to. My dad, who is a property owner in Bulloch County stated that basically it would make it to where there would be no incentive of living in the county (he's talking about property taxes).

IMO, I think consolidation is an excellent idea, and something that will work well for Bulloch County for many reasons. I have long hoped that consolidation would someday be considered but figured it never would because of how backwards the city council seems to be. However, fiscally speaking I think it would work well. For those who arent familiar with the area, Statesboro is a small but growing urban center and is the regional hub for shopping, labor, education, and medical services. The community is the largest community within the parameters of Augusta (76 miles), Savannah (52 miles) & Macon (120 miles). The halfway point between Statesboro and Savannah is also a rapidly growing area because of its proximity to both cities. Bulloch County is one of the largest counties in the state at 685 sq mi, but is very sparsely populated except the area around Statesboro which houses approximately 80% of the county's population. Statesboro is also just west of the center of the county.

City proper of Statesboro was estimated by the census at 26,610 for 2007, while the county's 2008 estimation was 67,761. While the city population seems small, the area surveyed only covers 12.6 square miles, resulting in one of the highest incorporated densities in Georgia, at 2,111 per square mile. Several census blocks in Statesboro range from 600-3,000 population. In my semester project for Applied GIS last semester, I used the census-defined methods for determining an urbanized area to see if Statesboro could meet the qualifications to be reclassified to a Metropolitcan Statistical Area by the 2010 Census. My research concluded that it does currently meet the qualifications for reclassification (meaning census blocks can be joined together to create an area with over 50,000 population while maintaining a density of at least 1,000 per square mile). My proposed Urbanized Area polygon housed roughly 54,000 residents while maintaining about 1,100 density. My research reinforced the fact that the vast majority of Bulloch County's population reside immediately adjacent to Statesboro's city proper boundaries.

As for services, many agencies that were once divided have, since the early 1990's been consolidated such as the development authority, the school system, the recreation department, among others. Those agencies that have consolidated are known to be much more successful and highly regarded than any of the services that are offered separately by the county and the city. It is also well-known in the community that the consolidation of various city & county agencies in the late-80's and early-90's are responsible for the extreme growth of the early nineties when Statesboro added over 6,000 jobs in 6 years. In many ways, the city and county operate as one big footprint, but through separate structures - this separation is why many local leaders have been discussing consolidation for the past several years.

Pro's:

-Statesboro's population ranking would jump to the top-ten just as Athens and Augusta did a few years back.

-The new ranking would provide a better understanding of Statesboro's actual population (though an overestimation of approximately 20%).

-Statesboro-Bulloch would be more focused on urban/regional planning as a whole, than a turf war or funding disputes.

-County and city can grow in tandem, with a central strategy and comprehensive master plan.

-City Council and County Commission would dissolve and a new government structure would be put in place (anything is better than Statesboro's current city council). This would be a great way to end the misery once and for all.

Con's:

-Statesboro's population density would be extremely under-estimated (dropping from 2,111 to 99 per sq mi) due to the 630 or so square miles of sparsely populated agriculture land. (Bulloch is the #1 row-crop county in GA with acres in the 100,000's).

-County tax-payers would likely see an increase.

-City Council members would likely not like the idea and would likely fight it to the finish due to them losing their political footholds. None of them would likely be voted for in a different government structure.

Discuss.

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Right now, I'm opposed to consolidating Bulloch County and Statesboro. I like Statesboro the way it is right now. I also don't like the tax issue. I don't want to ruin the city's density either.

If the city and county do consolidate, I do believe the result would be the second largest city in the continental US in area--Jacksonville, FL, is the largest at 767 sq miles of land alone since it merged with Duval County.

EDIT: According to Wikipedia, we'd be the fourth largest in area in the continental US, behind Jacksonville, FL, and Anaconda and Butte, Montana. We'd be the eighth largest in the entire US behind the aforementioned cities and a few Alaskan cities (all of which rank ahead of Jacksonville and the others).

Also, I'm pinning this topic. I hope it gets a good discussion going.

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Well, cities and counties are simply corporations. To run either in the best interested of the 'business' and the stakeholders, I think consolidation would be the best way to go. I grew up in Statesboro-Bulloch, and at least since the early 90's the city and county have done everything together. There have been some arguments, pushing and shoving, but for the most part, the city and county share responsibilities pretty well. Also the city seems to provide most of the county resources for the county. The county residents are like babies who take, but dont want to pay into the corporation that funds all the economic development of the surrounding area. I think the city has a lot of potential, and by consolidating the city and county and their comprehensive strategic directions as one, there would be many benefits.. perhaps even public transportation in the near future. Several years ago, a transit system was being designed for Statesboro, but it fell through because the private investor's finances. Anyway, the county has always relied on the city to provide everything for them. The city of Statesboro was created for the sole purpose of being a county seat for the South Ogeechee River area seceded from Screven County. It has pretty much served that purpose for the past two hundred years, just been a provider, but I think the city is beginning to reach its limit of being able to provide for the county, with only the city residents paying into the corporation. Unincorporated Bulloch is very rural. As a point of survival, the central city really has to be there for the county. Putting aside rankings, and density, and all that, we should do whats best for the people and the future of the community at the end of the day.

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