HISTORY OF GOVERNMENT
Nationally, there are about 40 consolidated city/county governments.
It is an old concept. The first was in 1805 when the city of New Orleans merged with the New Orleans Parish. Other cities
and counties that merged before 1900 include Boston/Suffolk County, Philadelphia/Philadelphia County, San Francisco/San Francisco
County, and New York City and its five boroughs.
Merged governments within easy driving distance of Evansville include Nashville and Davidson County,
Tenn., which consolidated in 1962; Indianapolis and Marion County, in 1969; Lexington and Fayette County, Ky., in 1972, and
Louisville and Jefferson County, Ky., in 2000.
Over the years, there have been three proposals for consolidation of Evansville and Vanderburgh County:
• In 1974, a merger plan called VandiGov, proposed by the administration of Mayor Russell Lloyd Sr.,
was defeated in a countywide referendum vote.
• In 1990, a merger plan drafted by a 35-member
citizens committee was tabled by Mayor Frank McDonald II and County Commissioners.
• In 2006,
a consolidation plan drafted by a 17-member citizen committee was blocked by the State Legislature, which refused to allow
a referendum vote on the proposal.
In its 2006 session, the Legislature enacted House Enrolled Act 1362 that grants local units of government
the ability to reorganize if a plan prepared by an appointed citizens study committee is approved by referendum vote.
The law spells out a complex series of steps in which the City Council and County Commissioners can decline to let the process
go forward, but a petition by 10 percent of registered voters could ultimately push the issue to a referendum.
In 2007, Gov. Mitch Daniels established
the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, led by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Supreme Court Justice Randall Shepard.
It examined a multitude of issues and made recommendations for sweeping changes in township and county governments, library
systems and school districts.
In 2008, voters across the state approved the elimination of most township assessor offices to transfer
their responsibilities to the county assessor.
It should be noted that although the VandiGov proposal was rejected by voters in 1974, many of its recommendations
for merging city and county departments have been carried out. In fact, more than 11 city and county departments have
consolidated staffs or functions. Those include the Area Plan Commission, the 911 Central Dispatch for police, sheriff
and fire departments, the Building Commissioners office, Animal Control, Weights & Measures, Purchasing Department and
Evansville and Vanderburgh public schools and libraries were merged years ago, as were local city and