Consolidation battle would be long one - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Consolidation battle would be long one

From law enforcement, to fire services, to schools. Whether or not city and county services are combined under one government umbrella could be long political battle.

One lawmaker who would be voting on such a constitutional amendment, says no way.

"It's probably dead on arrival at the state legislature because you have to change the constitution," State Representative Curry Todd said.

Here is a look at what it would take to amend the Tennessee Constitution. First a bill would be introduced. The bill would then go before the House and Senate. Then the following year it would go back before the House and Senate. There it would need to pass by a two-thirds majority. Finally, the proposed amendment would go before Tennessee voters.

County Commissioner George Flinn says he is prepared to urge lawmakers not pass such an amendment.

"That disenfranchises voters in Shelby county outside of Memphis. Can't do that way," Flinn said.
  
If the bill did make it pass the Legislature, State Representative Curry Todd says he doesn't think it has a chance getting passed by state voters.

"County voters would be irate because they have nothing to gain," Todd said.

City Council member Jim Stickland disagrees. He says people who live in the suburbs around Memphis have a lot to gain from a consolidated government.

"Just because you move out to suburbs. You think you're separated from Memphis but you're not.  If Memphis succeeds, you succeed. If Memphis is defeated and struggles, it's going to hurt you too," Strickland said.

The earliest a constitutional amendment could pass would be 2010. If that happened, there would then have to be a county-wide vote to consolidate Memphis City and Shelby County's governments.


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