Sunday, December 7, 2003

Commission may recommend Franklin merger

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

FRANKLIN - A special commission has begun meeting twice monthly to decide whether to recommend the merger of the City of Franklin and Franklin Township.

The commission, which was mandated by voters in November to study the proposed merger, must make a recommendation to voters 75 days before the November 2004 election, said Rupert Ruppert, one of five who represent the city on the commission.

Such mergers are rare, and there have been none for decades in Greater Cincinnati.

A similar merger proposal for these northern Warren communities was recommended by a commission but defeated at the polls in 1988, said Ruppert, who also served on that commission.

"We recommended that merger because the township's more desirable commercial and industrial development areas were being gobbled up by Middletown and Springboro," said Ruppert, a Franklin attorney elected chairman of the commission during its organizational meeting Nov. 28.

Middletown City Manager Ron Olson said any future annexations would be small, just to square off city borders, not expand them.

He said the merger study likely stems from a concern about plans to relocate Middletown Regional Hospital to an already annexed site near I-75. Some are worried about what that would mean to area residents and to development around the hospital.

"As for our annexations taking revenues out of the township, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case," Olson said. "In the last annexation, we agreed not to withdraw the property from the township, which means both the township and the city have millage to collect. It's not an automatic loss of tax base."

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