Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Vote ends talk of cities' merger

Lakeside Park council lines up 5-1

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LAKESIDE PARK - Talk of a merger between Lakeside Park and neighboring Fort Mitchell is dead.

Lakeside Park City Council has voted 5-1 to stop any merger talks with Fort Mitchell. Council member Debbie Henrickson cast the sole vote to study a possible merger.

"We were simply investigating (a possible merger) with Crestview Hills and Fort Mitchell at the suggestion of constituents,'' said Lakeside Park Mayor Karen Gamel. She added that Lakeside Park has many things in common with the two cities it borders, including contracting with Fort Mitchell for fire and emergency medical service and sharing a police authority with Crestview Hills.

However, after Monday's vote, any talk of merger "is a dead issue as of this time,'' Gamel said.

Lakeside Park Council member John Nienaber Jr. said there wasn't enough support from council or residents to proceed with a merger study. He added that Gamel already had a meeting scheduled with Fort Mitchell's mayor on several topics and brought up the prospect of merger after a resident asked council to look into it.

Fort Mitchell has a population of 8,089; Lakeside Park's is 2,869. Lakeside Park is virtually all residential, with a couple of businesses, while Fort Mitchell has a mix of businesses and residential areas.

With so few businesses, some in Lakeside Park saw merger as a way to reduce the taxes on residents. But while neighboring Crestview Hills has no insurance tax, no tangible property tax on vehicles and no waste collection fee, Fort Mitchell's tax structure is similar to Lakeside Park's, Nienaber said.

In January, Lakeside Park City Council narrowly approved paying $1,935 to cover half the cost of a merger study with Crestview Hills. However, the majority of Crestview Hills City Council opted not to participate.


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