Local News

Durham City, County Leaders Vote Against Proposed Merger Referendum

Posted August 7, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Durham County commissioners dealt a fatal blow to the idea of acity-county mergerWednesday.

Commissioners voted unanimously not to put a merger referendum on the ballot this November.

Some people living in Durham fear a merger would lead to higher taxes. Others believe fewer minorities would be elected to a combined government

"It wasn't enough about efficiency in government, but more about how to get certain persons, conservatives, in this county elected to office," says merger opponent Anita Hammond.

Tuesday, the Durham City Council voted 7 to 4 against putting the merger proposal to a public referendum.

One of the sticking points was how to combine the police department and sheriff's office.

A citizen task force agreed to table the law enforcement issue for a few years while details are worked out.

"If they want the sheriff to be in charge of all law enforcement, I would support that. Not because I'm the sheriff, but because the people elect the sheriff, and the founding fathers made that an elected position so [that person] would be accountable to the people," says Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill.

The votes against the merger referendum effectively ends the possibility of a merger in Durham anytime soon.