MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The Lake Wildwood community hosted a public forum Thursday night on consolidation.
The forum turned into more of a debate on why consolidation is good or bad for the county.
The event's panel included Bibb County Commissioners Lonzy Edwards and Joe Allen, State Representatives Robert Dickey and Bubber Epps, State Senator Cecil Staton, and Calder Pinkston with Macon-Bibb Wins Again.
Questions ranged from how well a smaller government would work compared to the current larger one to what seemed to be everyone's main question: How would consolidation effect taxes?
"Taxes will be raised," says Edwards, who is against consolidation. "Franchise fees would be increased by at least two percent. The estimate of increase on property taxes has been as high as 4, 4.5 mills county wide. I think there's a reason to think there's validity to that. And for all those reasons I think it would be a grave mistake for our community to go down this road."
Staton says there is a law in place to ensure taxes won't be raised.
"There is a mandate in the charter for savings for cutting the cost of the consolidated government," says Staton, who helped draft the consolidation legislation. "And if they do that, then there is absolutely no reason why taxes should go up. In fact, we believe there will be a net savings for taxpayers as a result of consolidation."
41NBC also spoke to two residents of the community to hear why they were for or against consolidation.
"Obviously any time you get 21 people that disagree, or agree, or disagree and disagree, your chances of getting something done with 9 are increasingly better than the 21," says Kenneth Maye, a resident at Lake Wildwood. "It just makes sense."
Arthur Redding, who lives within the city, disagrees.
"If the people we elect can come together, Macon would speak with one voice," says Redding. "That's all we need. We don't need a new government. We need to fix the one we've got."
July 31st is the day voters will decide whether or not the city and county will be merged.
If you're unsure on how you'll vote, you can check out the websites. One offers reasons to support consolidation, and one explains why consolidation is not a good idea for the community.
If it passes in the July 31st vote, the new 10-person board, including a new mayor, would be elected in the general election in November 2013 and would take office in January 2014.