Columbia Co. Consolidation Town Hall Meeting

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December 8, 2005
The debate over consolidation is once again the number one topic in Columbia County. The Evans and Martinez area will be combined into one government, while Grovetown and Harlem would remain separate cities. News 12 is on your side with the future plans.

If Columbia County consolidated into one city, it would instantly become the seventh largest city in Georgia.

That’s just one of the many advantages of a consolidated government, according to Columbia County officials. Name recognition, putting Columbia County on the map, adding to the county’s booming population and business structure.

“If you don’t know where the place is you’re not going to invest in it. And we have people from all over the United States that could be coming here but first have to find out where you are,” said Steve Szablewski, County Administrator.

In the first of three town hall meetings, the county administrator presented a half-hour slide show, showing the benefits. All of the cons listed like layoffs and higher costs, they say don’t apply to Columbia County.

“All of the constitutional officials we have would keep their same constitutional duties,” said Todd Glover, Director of Management Services.

But others in the crowd aren’t so happy about the plan, raising questions about the next step.

“I don’t believe that Georgia Power is collecting franchise fees out of the clear blue sky,” said Carl Miller.

That’s Carl Miller, the one wearing the “Say No To Consolidation” shirt.

“What would be the main reason for it or would anyone be for it? There are four counties and cities that are consolidated in this state. Why aren’t they all consolidating if it’s such a great thing?” Miller said.

County officials counter that 13 other counties in Georgia are considering consolidation.

What’s the next step, a future item on a ballot? Well, there are two more of these town hall meetings, both in January. Then, it could make its way to a ballot item for voters to ultimately decide.