Survey: Bibb residents want consolidation

Voters across Bibb County overwhelmingly want the governments of Macon and Bibb County to merge, a survey released Wednesday suggests.

Of likely Macon voters, 80 percent favor consolidation. That figure falls to 51 percent — a slim majority — in unincorporated Bibb County, where 36 percent of voters oppose consolidation.

The survey of 300 likely voters was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies in mid-February. A summary was released Wednesday by its sponsors, Mercer University and NewTown Macon. Some details of the survey, which has a margin of error of 5.66 percent, were not released.

Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen said the survey shows that Bibb County voters think consolidation is the way to go. He wants a vote in November.

“Politicians don’t want this,” he said. “It’s not the people (opposed). Politicians are afraid of this because they’re afraid of losing their positions. The people have a right to vote.”

State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, said in a statement that people should vote in November. He is trying to pass legislation in Atlanta for Bibb County and Macon voters to do just that.

“This poll shows that now is the time to give our citizens an opportunity to vote on whether to consolidate Macon and Bibb County,” Peake said in the statement.

The survey also shows strong support for having an elected sheriff to oversee law enforcement. Macon voters want a sheriff over an appointed police chief, 63 percent to 21 percent, according to the survey.

In unincorporated Bibb County, the gap widens to 76 percent favoring the sheriff and 10 percent wanting a police chief.

Bibb County voters also prefer nonpartisan elections for offices such as the mayor, commissioners, coroner, tax commissioner and sheriff. That’s backed by 59 percent of Macon voters and 53 percent of unincorporated Bibb County voters.

Bibb County has been studying consolidation since at least 1923.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.