Local News

Fayetteville, Cumberland County Eye Government Merger

Posted August 14, 2006 6:35 a.m. EDT

— Four North Carolina municipalities have unsuccessfully attempted merging operations with their surrounding counties in recent years, but that isn't deterring officials in Cumberland County and Fayetteville from taking a look at the idea.

Fayetteville and Cumberland County already share four departments -- animal control, stormwater, taxes and parks and recreation -- and county and city leaders have hired a consultant to study the benefits and drawbacks to a complete government merger.

"I think it would streamline government. I think it would make it more efficient, and I think it would make it more customer-friendly, one-stop shopping for everybody," County Commissioner Breeden Blackwell said.

But others have doubts.

Fayetteville City Councilman Curtis Worthy called the study a waste of time, noting that city and county agencies would be reluctant to give up power.

"You can't have chief of police running county police functions, [and I] don't know that anybody will relinquish their authority to give the county sheriff the authority over city operations," Worthy said.

Any merger wouldn't close the sheriff's office -- state law requires a sheriff in every county to serve legal papers and run the jail.

Officials said it's too early to say how a merger would impact taxes. They also said the idea wouldn't affect residents in the Cumberland County towns of Spring Lake, Hope Mills, Linden, Godwin, Falcon, Wade or Stedman.