Members of the Durham City Council and Durham County Board of Commissioners have agreed to start talking about merging the two governments.
"This is not something that's going to happen overnight," said commissioners Chairman Michael Page. "We're just beginning dialog."
City councilman Howard Clement raised the idea this morning, following a discussion of city and county budgets at a joint council-commissioners committee meeting.
"I throw that out for consideration," he said. The issue was not on the agenda and caught some at the meeting by surprise. Page, though, was receptive.
"I think we need to take his comment seriously," Page said. "How can we begin this process?"
“I don’t object,” said commissioner Ellen Reckhow. She suggested reviewing a "template" devised when merger was last proposed, in 2000.
Merging Durham's city and council governments has been formally proposed numerous times since the mid-1920s, but each proposal has either been abandoned or defeated in public referenda in 1961 and 1974.
Committee members agreed to put the item on their March 10 agenda, and requested city or county staff to prepare a summary of the 2000 template.