There was some last minute confusion among officials in Cumberland, Benham and Lynch on an ordinance allowing people to vote on combining services, like water and sanitation. It turns out, the issue does not need to be on the ballot to begin with.
Officials with Cumberland, Benham and Lynch say it was simply a misunderstanding.
“The KRS that we were given to do this ordinance with didn't apply to what we were attempting to do,” says Benham City Mayor John Dodd.
He is referring to Kentucky Revised Statute number 81.410. It's listed on the ordinance that officials with Cumberland, Benham and Lynch have been meeting about over the past few weeks. The ordinance would give citizens of the three cities the chance to vote in November's election and decide if they want to combine essential services. As it turns out, the statute applies to combining the three cities and not services.
“The statute allows a merger of cities and allows it to go to the people. And what they want to do with the services is not controlled by that statute,” says Attorney Richard Ornstein with the Kentucky Association of Counties.
To combine services, officials with all three cities simply need to meet on their own terms and helping each other out is something they've been doing all along. For example, Lynch and Benham already share sanitation services when needed.
“He pays my employee and if I use his, vice versa,” says Lynch Mayor Robert Collier. “It's the same way,” Dodd adds. “We work good together and like I said so does (Mayor Loretta Cornett) with us, in Cumberland.”
“I just hope that it won't be a disappointment to the citizens and know that these cities will keep trying to work together,” says Cumberland City Council member Charles Raleigh.
Mayor Loretta Cornett also says despite the confusion, she looks forward to future talks with Benham and Lynch as well.
As far as combining the three cities, officials won't be able to address that issue until the next general election in November of 2010.