By beginning the process at this time the ordinance could have both readings and if approved would be completed in adequate time (Aug. 12 is the deadline) to have a referendum placed on the ballot during the Nov. 4 general election. This referendum will allow the citizens of the Tri-Cities to decide the issue of merging/consolidating the services of the three cities. Should the decision be to merge/consolidate it would take two or three years before any significant changes could actually take place as a result of planning and implementing procedures. Delays in initiating this first step of the process would add years before the cities could offer this opportunity to the citizens again.
It is time to stop the bleeding. Band-aids are no longer effective. The council members are now the doctors and they should begin the healing process. The rate of decline in Cumberland, Benham and Lynch as reflected in the 2002-2006 census if continued would result in the dissolution of one, two or possibly all three cities within 10 years. Merging/consolidating the three cities is being encouraged at the county and state level and we should listen to them. Council members, let the people have a vote on their future.