Local News

Durham delays discussion of city-county merger

Posted March 10, 2009 6:56 a.m. EDT
Updated March 10, 2009 12:51 p.m. EDT

— Durham city and county representatives decided Tuesday to postpone a discussion of merging the two local governments until the annual budget process is complete.

The possibility of merging Durham’s two government structures has been on and off the table for more than half a century.

Ellen Reckhow, vice chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, said she thinks both governments should consider combining to save money.

"I think it's been about 10 years since we discussed it … and I think it’s a good time to revisit" the idea, Reckhow said. “We have a relatively small county geographically and a relatively large city.”

Eighty-five percent of the county’s population lives in the City of Durham.

Michael Page, chairman of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, said they would likely resume the discussion in July.

A study issued in 2000 said the two governments could realistically merge without much trouble except for one function: law enforcement. That is because the county has an elected sheriff while the city has an appointed police chief.

If both governments did decide merger is the way to go, the state Legislature would need to approve it.