I have written that despite the widespread belief, few of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. are consolidated.
I’ve been asked to post them and that list is below.
I was also asked about the state law that requires consolidation to be approved in two separate vote tallies – one inside Memphis and one outside Memphis. Following the list of consolidated cities is the media report about the federal ruling. Memphis attorney Julie Ellis, who skillfully chaired the last metro government charter commission, deserves credit for the filing of the lawsuit challenging the dual vote; however, she did not get the appeals court opinion affirming what seems to be logical – one vote total.
This list has the city and counties that are consolidated, how it ranks among the 100 largest cities, and the year it was consolidated is in parentheses.
Alaska – City and borough of Anchorage – #72 (1975)
California – City and county of San Francisco – #17 (1856)
Colorado – City and county of Denver – #19 (1902)
Florida – Jacksonville-Duval County – #12 (1967)
Hawaii – City and county of Honolulu – #55 (1907)
Indiana – Indianapolis-Marion County – #15 (1969)
Lexington-Fayette County – #57 (1972)
Louisville–Jefferson County – #29 (2003)
Baton Rouge-Parish of East Baton Rouge – #99 (1947)
New Orleans-Parish of Orleans – #53 (1805)
Massachusetts: Boston-Suffolk County – #24 (1821)
New York: City of New York-Counties of Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond – #1 (1898)
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia-Philadelphia County — #6 (1854)
Tennessee: Nashville-Davidson County, Tennessee – #21 (1962)
Virginia: Virginia Beach-Princess Anne County – #43 (1962)
In Tennessee, there have been at least 18 consolidation votes but only three successes (Nashville-Davidson County), Lynchburg/Moore County (1998, population: 6,488), and Hartsville/Trousdale County (2001, population: 11,284).
Consolidation failed one time in Nashville (1958); failed in Memphis/Shelby County three times (1962, 1971 and 2010); failed three times in Knoxville/Knox County (1959, 1978, 1983); and failed twice in Chattanooga/Hamilton County (1964 and 1970).
Court dismisses challenge to TN law on consolidation of city and county governments
The U.S. Sixth District Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the dual vote required under state law for consolidating city and county governments, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The law requires that a majority of voters in both the city and the county approve consolidation into a Metropolitan form of government. In several past votes around Tennessee, proposals have failed in the past because one group or the other – typically county voters – rejects consolidation.
The decision, filed Tuesday, concerns a challenge by a group of Memphis citizens who contended the dual vote diluted the voting strength of black Memphians, violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“We’re glad to hear it,” Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald said. “We felt like the lower court got it right and are glad to have the appeals court dismiss it.”
Mark Norris, the attorney for the suburbs said: “It is good to be this much closer to having this chapter closed.”
State law requiring the dual vote has long been considered a major barrier for consolidation because voters in the six suburbs — Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington — and unincorporated pockets of the county routinely oppose merger of Memphis and Shelby County governments. That opposition was heavily weighted in school consolidation.
The dual vote challenge — called the Tigrett Case because Harrison Kerr Tigrett was the first of eight plaintiffs listed — arose in conjunction with the November 2010 vote to consolidate Memphis and Shelby County governments. The Tigrett case was filed in advance of the consolidation referendum where Memphis voters barely endorsed the merger with 50.8 percent of the vote. Residents outside of Memphis soundly rejected consolidation with about 85 percent opposing the merger.
In its ruling, the appeals court said: “In this election, the referendum for consolidation did not pass and would not have passed even if there had been no dual-majority vote requirement (with the vote counts combined).”
The court said there is no indication Memphis and Shelby County “intend to consolidate through the formation of another (Charter) commission in the near future.”
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