Political and business leaders held an event in Dayton Monday to discuss merging city and county governments. The group is pushing the economic benefits of consolidation.
Leaders of the so-called “One Dayton” initiative say the problem is simple: both Dayton and Montgomery County have been in decline. Since the year 2000, around 25,000 people have left the county, and jobs are slow to return after the recession.
“It benefits Dayton as a city to be a part of a larger vibrant region where companies are interested in investing and individuals want to live,” said Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams. He was joined by Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley and Phil Parker of the Greater Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, among other political and business leaders.
“The question will be, will Dayton citizens have a seat at the table?” said Williams.
Advocates say it’s a tradeoff; a new combined structure would make Dayton the second-largest city in the state, giving it new clout in Columbus.
Leaders at the meeting compared Dayton to Louisville, KY and Nashville, TN, which have consolidated with their counties for similar reasons in the last decade. Both cities’ populations have soared, while Dayton and Montgomery County continue to lose people.
“On the path that we’re on, in fifteen years greater Dayton will be a ghost town,” said former University of Dayton President Brother Ray Fitz.
“One Dayton” will hold a series of events in the next year to try to drum up public interest, although any structural change would ultimately have to come to a vote in any municipality affected.