Elaine Lucas pushes consolidation plan

Consolidation of government services — and maybe the governments themselves — seems to be gaining momentum again among Macon and Bibb political leaders.Monday, it was Councilwoman Elaine Lucas making the push, introducing a resolution that lays out a timetable for various county and city departments to combine and contemplates a communitywide referendum to fully merge city and county governments in 10 years.Lucas said she discussed the idea Monday with Mayor Robert Reichert, who has been pushing consolidation himself. Reichert has been discussing similar ideas with Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart and said last week he’s optimistic that many city and county services can be merged in the near future.Lucas said her schedule, which lays out target years for various consolidations, is flexible. But she purposefully put two of the more controversial decisions — how to merge law enforcement functions and whether to do away with the city council and county commission in favor of a new elected body — at the end of her 10-year timetable.Consolidation has been proposed many times in this community, but the idea never passed muster with voters, who must approve a final merger of the council and commission in a referendum. By merging various departments first, “you will really have a product to show to the people” before they vote, Lucas said.