City Councilman Howard Clement (below left) hasn't forgotten about city-county merger. He revived the subject in 2008 during a meeting of city and county officials, and brought it up again when they met again this week.
"I would like to know where we are," he said, reminding City Manager Tom Bonfield and County Manger Mike Ruffin that they were asked to be "looking into opportunities to merge our operations."
Bonfield mentioned fleet management and a fiber-optic network, and Ruffin mentioned purchasing as areas considered for cooperation.
"The process has not been concluded because it is a continuing process," Bonfield said.
Over the past three years, Clement has repeatedly spoken out in favor of a complete consolidation of city and county governments, an idea advanced from time to time since the mid-1920s. Twice, in 1961 and 1974, merger has gone to a public referendum and both times was overwhelmingly rejected.
"I know there's been resistance here in Durham to even consider merging operations," Clement said. He maintains, though, that combining governments would improve efficiency and save taxpayers' money.
"The question is not will we merge, the question is when we merge, how we merge," Clement said.
Councilman Eugene Brown, though, said the two managers' approach is a good one.
"It may seem incremental," Brown said, "but incremental progress is better than no progress at all."