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  #261  
Old Posted Feb 9, 2014, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by jslaughter View Post
What is the possibility for birmingham to have a metro gov't??? In order to make more leaps and bounds it needs on in the coming future.
I am not optimistic, however I think some of the local politicians and business leaders are talking about some kind of metro cooperative effort. But nothing like a metro gov't, I think there is still a lot of mistrust in the area. But I could be wrong.
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  #262  
Old Posted Feb 9, 2014, 11:41 PM
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I am not optimistic, however I think some of the local politicians and business leaders are talking about some kind of metro cooperative effort. But nothing like a metro gov't, I think there is still a lot of mistrust in the area. But I could be wrong.
My optimism isn't high either. I just hope minor projects like a metro light rail system can come through maybe. Maybe that or other projects could build up trust again. :\
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  #263  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 12:11 AM
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My optimism isn't high either. I just hope minor projects like a metro light rail system can come through maybe. Maybe that or other projects could build up trust again. :\
Hopefully with Jefferson County coming out of bankruptcy, it could take the lead in an effort to unify the county, in fact I've heard of a topic being discussed for Birmingham and Jefferson County to do some kind of (for lack of a better word) merger. If it is successful maybe other entities in the county might want to join.
But I am not sure how serious this discussion is. To me that sounds more plausible than a Metro merger.
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  #264  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 2:56 AM
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Well, you'd never get any governments from other counties to join in, but I don't think that's what he meant. The idea of merger Birmingham and Jefferson County has been around for nearly 100 years, but it has always been defeated at the polls. I actually think it would be a great idea, but 1) you'd have trouble convincing voters that any new gov't with the words "Jefferson County" in the name is a good idea considering financial issues, and 2) I imagine the process would be incredibly complicated considering the bankruptcy issue.

There is an incredible amount of redundancy in the county, and increasing efficiency is beneficial for everyone. One of the main reasons for there being so many municipalities in the county is because of racial tensions over the past 5 decades. While, IMO, demographic tensions are smoother at the moment in Jefferson County than any other part of the state you'll still inevitably have a large amount of people who want their address to remain, explicitly, OTM in order to avoid feeling they have any connection or responsibility to what happens in the inner city.

I'm not saying it's impossible, or would necessarily fail, were it to be put to a vote (which it would have to be). I think that until we get another decade or so down the road from the bankruptcy, you're still going to have a large number of people continuing to associate fiscal irresponsibility with the city center, and that alone might be enough to stop it.
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  #265  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 4:28 AM
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I mean all you have to do is show them examples of where a metro gov't has been enacted like in Denver and Atlanta and if they have a brain they would vote yes. But unfortunately, we have so many municipalities who are have too much pride to vote yes and can't agree over a simple bill it LITERALLY pisses me off. They don't want things to change and they can't understand the fact that without Birmingham they would not exist. To me they are a parasite that just feed off Birmingham and thus Birmingham and the metro will never benefit. I do believe Birmingham is going in the right direction but it needs to incorporate the metro to truly begin it's metamorphosis. It's going to happen i think. But it's only a matter when. 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? 20 years?
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  #266  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 6:42 AM
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I think a cooperative effort would be more ideal for this area. There are some evidence of that now, especially in the area of public safety.
A few of the mayors including Birmingham's are trying to forge an agreement to not steal businesses from each other. Pool all the money being used for incentives to lure each others businesses into a pool to go after businesses not in the area or the state.
I too do not see a completely unified county or metro. Even towns in Shelby County are looking closely at starting their own school system, and probably some of the other towns in other counties in the Birmingham-Hoover Metro will do the same once they start to grow. The State would have to step in and stop all the duplication, and we all should agree that will never happen.
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  #267  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 7:01 AM
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I mean all you have to do is show them examples of where a metro gov't has been enacted like in Denver and Atlanta and if they have a brain they would vote yes. But unfortunately, we have so many municipalities who are have too much pride to vote yes and can't agree over a simple bill it LITERALLY pisses me off. They don't want things to change and they can't understand the fact that without Birmingham they would not exist. To me they are a parasite that just feed off Birmingham and thus Birmingham and the metro will never benefit. I do believe Birmingham is going in the right direction but it needs to incorporate the metro to truly begin it's metamorphosis. It's going to happen i think. But it's only a matter when. 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? 20 years?
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Originally Posted by Bamablazer View Post
I think a cooperative effort would be more ideal for this area. There are some evidence of that now, especially in the area of public safety.
A few of the mayors including Birmingham's are trying to forge an agreement to not steal businesses from each other. Pool all the money being used for incentives to lure each others businesses into a pool to go after businesses not in the area or the state.
I too do not see a completely unified county or metro. Even towns in Shelby County are looking closely at starting their own school system, and probably some of the other towns in other counties in the Birmingham-Hoover Metro will do the same once they start to grow. The State would have to step in and stop all the duplication, and we all should agree that will never happen.
Both of you make great points. Recently, AL.com posted a story about how Birmingham could benefit from what the Denver region acted on. They basically took action to not compete against each other (municipalities against municipalities, and others against others). I do think that would be a great first step.

Maybe that's what we should all get behind? A company locating to Hoover is a company locating to Greater Birmingham. A company locating to Bessemer is a company locating to Greater Birmingham. A company locating to Trussville is a company locating to Greater Birmingham. A company locating to Birmingham is a company locating to Greater Birmingham.
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  #268  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 8:24 AM
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Just to be clear, though, neither Denver nor Atlanta has a metropolitan government. Denver is a physically small consolidated city-county, which is basically fully developed to its edges. And, Atlanta is definitely not a metropolitan government, though, the central county is just about developed out. In fact, it's dysfunction between its many small, moving parts is legendary in the South. I guess what some may be confused by is the fact that both of these counties are small and built-out, but there is nothing regional about the governments in their metropolitan area. I'd also argue that metropolitan governments only really work when it happened before cities exploded with sprawl. Trying to consolidate them after-the-fact usually yields many fewer benefits, even in city-county consolidations where most of the urban area exists in one county. This is not even to mention that city-county consolidations only really become sellable when the county and city are closer in financial health than they are further apart, otherwise, suburban residents have a real legitimate concern about taking on a struggling city's debt.

Not trying to be a debbie downer, but I think the benefits of consolidation are oversold.
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  #269  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 1:01 PM
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Just to be clear, though, neither Denver nor Atlanta has a metropolitan government. Denver is a physically small consolidated city-county, which is basically fully developed to its edges. And, Atlanta is definitely not a metropolitan government, though, the central county is just about developed out. In fact, it's dysfunction between its many small, moving parts is legendary in the South. I guess what some may be confused by is the fact that both of these counties are small and built-out, but there is nothing regional about the governments in their metropolitan area. I'd also argue that metropolitan governments only really work when it happened before cities exploded with sprawl. Trying to consolidate them after-the-fact usually yields many fewer benefits, even in city-county consolidations where most of the urban area exists in one county. This is not even to mention that city-county consolidations only really become sellable when the county and city are closer in financial health than they are further apart, otherwise, suburban residents have a real legitimate concern about taking on a struggling city's debt.

Not trying to be a debbie downer, but I think the benefits of consolidation are oversold.
I think we may be stuck on what happened with Nashville and Jacksonville merging with their respective counties back when Birmingham was competing with those two cities. They have done pretty well for themselves especially with both cities having NFL teams and all. So we'll just have to work with what we have and go forward from here. After Birmingham's two previous Mayoral administrations I have come to accept slow growth is better than no growth.
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  #270  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 9:47 PM
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I'm not sure how it would or could work but if Birmingham could merge with Jefferson County could it be done in such a way where only unincorporated people get amnexed? Then all the little kingdoms could keep their fiefdoms.
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  #271  
Old Posted Feb 10, 2014, 11:03 PM
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I'm not sure how it would or could work but if Birmingham could merge with Jefferson County could it be done in such a way where only unincorporated people get amnexed? Then all the little kingdoms could keep their fiefdoms.
Yes, that is exactly what Jeffery Bayer of Bayer Properties talked about in a column on AL.com titled The Comeback Town by David Sher. Just the city and county merging and leaving out all the others but with an invite if they were interested. It was an interesting article but it was just one man's opinion.
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  #272  
Old Posted Feb 11, 2014, 5:03 AM
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Consolidation

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Originally Posted by Bamablazer View Post
Yes, that is exactly what Jeffery Bayer of Bayer Properties talked about in a column on AL.com titled The Comeback Town by David Sher. Just the city and county merging and leaving out all the others but with an invite if they were interested. It was an interesting article but it was just one man's opinion.
I actually ran the numbers for a hypothetical merger of Birmingham and unincorporated Jeffco. With such a merger, we get an entity with a population around 300,000 or about same as the 1970 population of Birmingham only. However, this does not get us back on Top 50 U.S. Cities list.

For some reason, everyone forgets about the merger of Louisville and its Jefferson County in 2000. Before, I would say Greater Louisville may have been growing at about the same rate as Birmingham-Hoover. Now it is growing a little faster, but definitely not like gangbusters. In Louisville's case, it had a popular, progressive mayor that sold consolidation as a means of improving efficiency and economic development. The merger referendum was defeated the first time around, but was approved on the second attempt. I am not sure we have many mayors that would actively campaign for something that might end their careers, but that what happened in Louisville.

I agree that the more prudent approach would be to push for the consolidation of services. Residents in our region, as in most other places in the U.S. really like having choices. That is true whether you are talking about our breakfast cereals, our cars or the places we live and educate our children. That geni is not going back into the bottle. I'll go a step further and suggest that perhaps we should be using our scores of municipalities and school systems as selling points rather than convenient and tired excuses for us not doing better than we are. It is way past time for us to move past this.
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  #273  
Old Posted Feb 11, 2014, 1:03 PM
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Yeah but the conditions and timing are different here. Our Jefferson just came out of BK and could use the help. We already have a city pushing for economic development and it is working. The consolidation could give that movement a boost by providing a larger tax base. We wouldn't be doing it to spur development but to compliment and help it.

Yes there are lessons to be learned from other cities who have chosen this path but no two situations are the same. So while Louisville has a lot of similarities to here it doesn't mean we'll end up the exact same way. I also have not seen an example where consolidation turned out to be bad for the parties involved.
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  #274  
Old Posted Feb 12, 2014, 9:25 PM
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Actually Tourian, you have helped make the case for not pursuing consolidation. The examples everyone uses in favor of this approach (Nashville and Jacksonville) took place half a century ago. Back then, the major decisions in most cities were made by a handful of powerful white men in a smoke-filled room. I am not suggesting that consolidation is impossible, just that the environment these decisions would be made in today is more complicated.

I also just thought of a few more recent examples to help make my case. Look at those city/county consolidations that have taken place in Georgia over the past 20 years or so. I have not seen any evidence that those places are necessarily much better off now. And all of the research I have seen over the past ten years, so far, also calls into question whether most consolidations actually live up to their hype. And finally, one basic question has yet to be answered- What would the residents of Birmingham and unincorporated Jefferson County get with consolidation that they can't get now? Thanks
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  #275  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2014, 1:49 AM
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What places in Georgia are you referring too where it didn't help? They can't be in cities the size of Birmingham. Plus Georgia has those tiny little counties everywhere. Consolidation for some of them may have been mostly moot.

Unincorporated people would get better services first like police fire and trash in the short term. Long term would mean more money for big civic projects with the larger tax base.

I do not see how your argument has been proven that it shouldn't happen. Your point about the white establishment making it happen a long time ago versus today is just saying that it would be difficult and no one is denying that.

Last edited by Tourian; Feb 13, 2014 at 2:23 AM.
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  #276  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2014, 2:29 AM
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What places in Georgia are you referring too where it didn't help? They can't be in cities the size of Birmingham. Plus Georgia has those tiny little counties everywhere. Consolidation for some of them may have been mostly moot.

Unincorporated people would get better services first like police fire and trash in the short term. Long term would mean more money for big civic projects with the larger tax base.
Yeah, I haven't heard of any complaints from the various consolidated Governments in Georgia.

But none of them come close to the size of Birmingham/Jefferson County, either. Augusta & Columbus are both roughly the same size at around 200,000, but Augusta has a much larger metro area. Even so, Augusta is clearly not in the same tier as Birmingham.
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  #277  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2014, 5:01 AM
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Actually Tourian, you have helped make the case for not pursuing consolidation. The examples everyone uses in favor of this approach (Nashville and Jacksonville) took place half a century ago. Back then, the major decisions in most cities were made by a handful of powerful white men in a smoke-filled room. I am not suggesting that consolidation is impossible, just that the environment these decisions would be made in today is more complicated.

I also just thought of a few more recent examples to help make my case. Look at those city/county consolidations that have taken place in Georgia over the past 20 years or so. I have not seen any evidence that those places are necessarily much better off now. And all of the research I have seen over the past ten years, so far, also calls into question whether most consolidations actually live up to their hype. And finally, one basic question has yet to be answered- What would the residents of Birmingham and unincorporated Jefferson County get with consolidation that they can't get now? Thanks
I think your "What would the residents of Birmingham and unincorporated Jefferson County get with consolidation that they can't get now?" question is extremely valid. For one thing, we actually have no clue, because the state law that allows consolidation was passed (if I'm not mistaken) quite a while ago.

My last point aside, he (or she) raises a great question. What benefit would consolidation afford the citizens of unincorporated JeffCo as well as those who live within the limits of the various cities in JeffCo.

To be honest, I do think it is worth considering that consolidation would dilute the ability of minorities and the impoverished to have a say in what happens in their community. While JeffCo is generally "middle of the road" as far as politics go, there are still a large amount of people who's needs would be ignored if the city and county were to consolidate.

Nashville, Atlanta, and Jacksonville are certainly examples of how consolidation can grow a region, but many will ignore the fact that crime rates in those cities are still quite high. Many are quick to see the dollar sign, before the skull and bones, as a signal of success.

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What places in Georgia are you referring too where it didn't help? They can't be in cities the size of Birmingham. Plus Georgia has those tiny little counties everywhere. Consolidation for some of them may have been mostly moot.

Unincorporated people would get better services first like police fire and trash in the short term. Long term would mean more money for big civic projects with the larger tax base.

I do not see how your argument has been proven that it shouldn't happen. Your point about the white establishment making it happen a long time ago versus today is just saying that it would be difficult and no one is denying that.
As far as Georgia's cities go, Brainiac is right, nothing really changed. Their counties are tiny. You raise a great point, though, none of those places (like Athens, GA) are nearly the size of JeffCo/Birmingham.

If we want to use the argument of extending goods and services to unincorporated areas, that is great and it is just. However, it must be considered that the simple reasoning for provided goods and services to those who do not necessarily receive such benefits experienced by "city-dwellers" is not reason enough to jump at consolidation. It cannot be the only issue considered, especially since a majority of JeffCo residents live within city-limits.

All of this is basically to say that we can't just assume consolidation is either a solution or a perfect idea. As it is, the city of Birmingham is doing a great job of encouraging redevelopment (although I think it could do a better job of doing the same in less fortunate neighborhoods).

I have been guilty of this before, but largely, most people favor consolidation because it would dramatically increase the population of "Birmingham". The idea of Birmingham having 660,000 people is...sexy, but it's not the only thing that matters.
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  #278  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2014, 5:13 PM
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Well yeah that's my point. Using some small Mayberry like one horse town in some tiny little Hazzard like county that is barely bigger then that town as an example of how consolidation doesn't help and compare it to a huge county like Jefferson and a city the size of Birmingham does not pass muster with me.
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  #279  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2014, 10:02 PM
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Consolidation will reduce costs and eliminate redundant services. That doesn't necessarily mean residents will benefit from that (at least, financially). Governments can always spend more in other areas with those newly realized savings. Not that it's a bad idea (e.g. money gained from elimination of redundant services being spent instead on education). The true value that comes from consolidation has more to do with competition than costs.

It allows the region to speak with one voice and move with one agenda. Idiotic scenarios like the one that saw Birmingham pay Walmart $11 million dollars to move a damn Super Center down the street from Irondale are practically eliminated. Regionalism would give Birmingham a rare leg up on peer competition. Additionally, and this might be the most important point, it will give us a larger, stronger voice in Montgomery.

A regional government might be Birmingham's best (and only) chance to effectively eliminate the barriers, de facto and de jure, imposed by the state of Alabama. The biggest hurdle, of course, will be the school system. Solve that and our chances for a metro gov go up exponentially.

Note: I've seen Atlanta referenced in this thread. They don't have unified gov. Some southern cities that do: Nashville, Jacksonville, Indy. (Edited to correct an error that identified CLT as a consolidated gov; h/t: @tascalisa.)
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Last edited by B'ham Bound; Feb 14, 2014 at 6:11 AM.
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  #280  
Old Posted Feb 14, 2014, 4:11 AM
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Consolidation will reduce costs and eliminate redundant services. That doesn't necessarily mean residents will benefit from that (at least, financially). Governments can always spend more in other areas with those newly realized savings. Not that it's a bad idea (e.g. money gained from elimination of redundant services being spent instead on education). The true value that comes from consolidation has more to do with competition than costs.

It allows the region to speak with one voice and move with one agenda. Idiotic scenarios like the one that saw Birmingham pay Walmart $11 million dollars to move a damn Super Center down the street from Irondale are practically eliminated. Regionalism would give Birmingham a rare leg up on peer competition. Additionally, and this might be the most important point, it will give us a larger, stronger voice in Montgomery.

A regional government might be Birmingham's best (and only) chance to effectively eliminate the barriers, de facto and de jure, imposed by the state of Alabama. The biggest hurdle, of course, will be the school system. Solve that and our chances for a metro gov go up exponentially.

Note: I've seen Atlanta referenced in this thread. They don't have unified gov. However, CLT and Nashville are two that do.
Well, first I don't think Charlotte has a unified government. Though, it might as well, as the city makes up 80% of the county's population.

I think you make a very good argument, especially in regards to having a single voice in Montgomery. Alabama's legislative districts largely favor rural areas, so increasing Birmingham's urban voice is pivotal. Even our US congressional districts favor rural areas. The cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa are split between two districts.... Although, I'd bet that at least half of the population of Terrie Sewell's district is within urban parts of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

As far as removing redundancy to save money, I really think it's a tough call. That's a complex issue that involves a large number of public employees being let go, but also a lot of extra money for a unified government to spend throughout the county. I'm not political scientist or economist, I won't begin to guess at how that would all affect the area.
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