Tallahassee Chamber to Appoint Local Government Merger Study Committee

The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, in an effort to continue its robust study of local government structures in Tallahassee and Leon County, will appoint a nine-person committee to examine key considerations and provide a road map that the Board and the greater community should take into account when evaluating a potential merged governance structure. This action follows the recent review from the study commissioned by the Chamber and provided by the Washington Economics Group, that highlighted significant economic benefits that our community could achieve in modeling other communities that elected to merge their local government structure.

The committee will provide a report on its findings that will identify potential strategies, steps and solutions for the most important issues inherent in a local government merger. Items addressed in the report will include, but are not limited to:

• Structure of local legislative body (elected commission)
• Structure of executive management (senior management)
• Structure of financing and taxing authority
• Structure of law enforcement and public safety
• Constitutional offices
• Utility services
• Airport and transit services
• Urban and rural services
• Public employee considerations
• Equitable representation for the entire community

The committee will convene for 120 days and will be staffed by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber plans to engage in this effort with support from The Florida Institute of Government. The Institute has a 30-year history of unbiased and balanced experience by providing education, training, technical assistance and applied research to Florida’s governments and communities.

The committee Chair will serve as a liaison between the Chamber staff, Board of Directors and the community at large. The committee members will be appointed by the Chair and Chair-Elect of the Chamber Board of Directors.

The committee will provide its report to the full Board by August 2018.

# # #

Heidi Otway, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Tallahassee Chamber recalls the Community Leadership trip to Nashville that started the conversation about a potential government merger. “Nearly a year ago The Chamber led a large group of community leaders to Nashville, Tennessee. We went in search of strategies that can enhance our community trajectory. One of the strategic conversations that happened while our leaders were convened was focused on consolidation. In that room there was consensus that a larger discussion on the issue was warranted. Since our return from that trip, the Chamber Board of Directors has engaged with multiple stakeholders in our organization to extend the conversation about consolidation. Today, I’m proud we are taking the next step to empanel a committee to evaluate the reasons why consolidation could work for our community.”

Mark O’Bryant, Chair-Elect for the Chamber, adds another perspective regarding the efforts of the committee. “It’s been almost fifteen years since I moved to Tallahassee. During those years, I’ve been impressed by the many improvements achieved by our community, however we cannot rest on our past accomplishments. The competition among cities for business, talent and opportunities is growing. Although Tallahassee possesses a powerful and unique tool set of assets, we must do more with it to outperform other cities competing with us. I believe conversations about consolidation open the door to new ideas on how to drive meaningful and constructive growth in the region. Consolidation could provide a better platform for strengthening the economic health of the place we call home as it has in numerous other communities. Many of the problems that plague our town would likely be significantly addressed by improved economic vitality. Over the years, I’ve heard many reasons why consolidation would not work. Times have changed, and reasons have changed as to why we should look at it again. I’m excited to empanel a committee tasked to focus on those reasons. The answers may be the key to Tallahassee’s ability to compete in an ever expanding global economy.”