Local News

Durham County, city look at possible merger

Posted January 13, 2009 3:43 p.m. EST
Updated January 13, 2009 6:37 p.m. EST

— Durham County and city staff are studying the possibility of merging the two governments to save money.

City Councilman Howard Clement, who has been advocating a merger since 1971, suggested the idea again Tuesday during a joint meeting of the City Council and the county Board of Commissioners.

Clement said 82 percent of Durham County's population lives within the city limits, which makes two governments redundant. The overlap is especially wasteful when both governments have to cut services to make up for budget shortfalls during an economic downturn, he said.

Durham County has approved 3 percent cuts to county departments and nonprofits and has proposed similar cuts to Durham Public Schools and Durham Technical Community College to make up a projected $14.25 million deficit.

City Councilman Mike Woodard said he served on a committee that examined a possible city-county merger in both 1995 and 2000. He said he expects staff members to use some of those findings in the latest review of the idea.

Officials said they would discuss the issue more at a March meeting.