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U of L Report Finds City, County Merger Has Largely Failed

Louisville Metro Government has failed to bring economic growth and more cost efficient services to the city, according to a stinging report by the University of Louisville.The study was requested by state Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, for Mayor Greg Fischer’s Merger 2.0 Task Force. Owens has been a longtime opponent and critic of merger and called for the review after feeling the mayor’s task force wasn’t looking at critical issues such as economic growth, Metro employee costs and urban services. The report says the consolidation of the city and county in 2003 has failed on key pledges that merger proponents promised such as creating jobs and cost savings to city services.From the Courier-Journal: The report claims economic development "has not accelerated but moved downward" and that the decline cannot be blamed on the economy. "The decline is not just a product of the national recession that began in 2008, but had beset post-merged Louisville while the nation was in the midst of economic growth," the report says.Another criticism the report highlights is one that Metro Council Republicans have complained about for a number of years, and that is information about the cost of services in the old city limits have never been released, which prevents accurate accounting.University of Louisville public-affairs professor Hank Savitch authored the report, which piggybacks on his earlier criticisms of merger.Last year, Savitch told WFPL his data found there was "no significant benefits" from combing city and county government and there has been a relative lack of success behind the consolidation."Employment was flat, business establishments were flat, the downtown actually saw a real decrease in the number of business establishments, and employment, despite the claims of our city leaders...in fact the claims of our city leaders are fairly hollow with regard to merger," he said in March 2010. The new study also criticizes Fischer’s task force, saying there were considerable flaws in information provided to members of the panel.The findings have been forwarded to Fischer’s office for further review.

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