The Durham County commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the plan, while the city commissioners were in favor by a 12-1 vote.
The next step in the merger process is a cost analysis. Supporters are hopeful the matter will be on the November ballot.
"Down the road, it will save money or it will keep the cost of government down," said David Smith, a supporter of the merger. "It's happening in places where mergers have taken place."
A merger would also leave Durham with one governing body making critical decisions. Last year, the Durham city council approved acontroversial mallunder construction that will have an impact on county residents.
Supporters say the combination of city and county would ease confusion created over the years.
"People don't understand what the city does or what the county does: who collects the trash, who's in charge of animal control, who does social services," Smith said.
Merger supporters also envision a plan under which the county sheriff's department and the city police department would both operate, carrying out different functions.
Robert Parrish, a resident of Durham for 22 years, thinks the merger could create a turf battle. He also does not think the merger would keep the cost of living down.
"I don't see where combining the city and the county would benefit us that much," Parrish said. "I don't think it would help that much."
The cities of Kansas City, Jacksonville and Nashville all operate under a city-county merger system.
Copyright 2022 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.