The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
-- Bertrand Russell
When our forbears first thought of joining the city and county governments during the first quarter of the 20th century, some residents probably thought their leaders mad. Why would they suggest such a novel notion of having one government? Almost 100 years later that novel notion for one of the smallest counties in Georgia is back on the lips of those who must approve it or send it kicking and screaming to defeat.
It wouldn’t be the first time. The idea was defeated in 1933, 1947, 1960, 1972 and 1976. We have commissioned consolidation studies in 1923, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1936, 1943, 1946, 1951, 1957, 1962, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1994, 1995 and 1998. After 1998, Mayor C. Jack Ellis had two committees, although not officially blessed by City Council and County Commission, to look at consolidation. Heading up one of those committees was future Mayor Robert Reichert.
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Is now the time? Is now the moment? We believe it is for several reasons. Not to cast gloom and doom about being unable to attract new business if we don’t consolidate, there are more serious worries, such as the constant downward slide in population. That slide is from people deciding that what we are doing here isn’t working. The trend is unmistakable. For 40 years, Macon’s population has plummeted while other second-tier cities without our blessing of location have grown. It would be foolish to suggest that having two separate governments sits at the root of our population slide. It is, however, a component.
We have laid out the advantages of a single government for Bibb County and Macon on these pages many times. Until a dramatic shift in the General Assembly occurred last year, consolidation was a pipe dream even though people were talking about it. The issue was trapped between an immovable object and an irresistible force in the House and Senate.
There is obvious passion. Much of the opposition to consolidation is rooted in maintaining political power. Some would, as the saying goes, rather “rule in hell than serve in heaven.” News flash: Hell is already here. Bibb County is one of the poorest areas of the country sitting in the middle of one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Georgia is growing. Yet Macon and Bibb County are not. The city population dropped 6.1 percent during the last decade according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
It’s time to continue the momentum gathered by a successful SPLOST vote last year and a change in leadership on our local delegation in the General Assembly.
Those who want to punt and those who say we’re moving too fast have it wrong. We heartily endorse a yes vote for consolidation. We believe our wits have grown stronger and magical things lie ahead.