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March 4, 2013

Clarksville explores move to city

Experts discuss options with committee

CLARKSVILLE — Clarksville officials and citizens met Saturday to explore options for making the transition from the oldest town in the Northwest Territory to a city, as well as try to establish some goals.

Clarksville’s City/Town Committee met with an attorney and his associates who helped the town of Fishers, Ind. make the change.

 

Choosing direction

Doug Church, Fishers’ town attorney for the last 33 years, said there are several paths to becoming a city if that’s what Clarksville wants to pursue, but said officials also might be happy with becoming a modified town.

He said whether the Clarksville wants to make the move based on its size or for more practical reasons, officials need to carefully explore whether they want to employ the state’s Government Modernization Act or follow the steps to become a city.

“It is wrong to think that there is some structure within the statute that actually recognizes the values, the strengths or weaknesses of being a particular category of city or town,” Church said. “Fishers went through a two-year exercise … talking endlessly about the values of one or the other form of government. And in the end, they concluded, and I think correctly so, it’s really a question of choice — of what it is you’re trying to accomplish.”

Church said part of the motivation behind the creation of the Modernization Act was to give municipalities more options for its government structure and to get away from outdated state laws and how they are structured.

But in order to go through the change, Clarksville would have to get another neighboring municipality to go into the act with them.

John Gikey, town council member and member of the city/town committee, said Clarksville might consider partnering with Sellersburg or unincorporated municipalities of Jeffersonville if that’s the route they choose. But Church said the Modernization Act would allow Clarksville to keep its town structure with voters electing a council that chooses a mayor, or allow voters to elect the mayor, as well.

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