Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification FilesAthens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files

Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files

Descriptive Summary

Title: Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files
Creator: Hardy, Paul T.
Dates: 1980-1992
Extent: 2.0 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Collection Number: RBRL/237/ACC
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files document the dissolution of the governments of the city of Athens and Clarke County and the creation of a new consolidated government known as Athens-Clarke County on January 14, 1991. Documented to a lesser degree is Paul Hardy, University of Georgia Carl Vincent Institute of Government professor and attorney, and his role in the unification process and drafting of the final charter. The files consist of correspondence and memos, charter drafts and summary reports, commission meeting agendas and minutes, research materials, legal and financial information, organization charts, maps, clippings, and advertising materials.

Collection Description

Historical Note

Excerpted from the Athens-Clarke County Unification History web page:

The idea of consolidation had been in citizens’ minds for some time, no doubt due to the small size of the county, the area’s rapid growth and number of services already jointly run or contracted between the city and the county. In 1955, the school systems of the city of Athens and Clarke County were consolidated.

The first movement for consolidating the governments of Athens and Clarke County began in the mid-sixties. The voters of Athens-Clarke County passed a local constitutional amendment in 1966 that authorized the Georgia General Assembly to create a charter commission to study consolidation and to draft a charter for a consolidated government. In 1967, The General Assembly passed a local act that created the first Athens-Clarke County Charter Commission.

The first unification referendum was held on March 12, 1969 that required the passage of two separate counts: one count for the city of Athens and one for Clarke County (excluding Athens). The measure passed in the city with 59.8% support, but failed in the county with only 29.3% support.

A second consolidation attempt began with the passage of another local act of the General Assembly in 1971, authorized by the 1966 local constitutional amendment. A referendum for consolidation was held on May 24, 1972. Again, the city residents passed consolidation while the county residents opposed it. The levels of support and opposition had changed, however. In the 1972 vote, the city voted 52% in favor of consolidation compared with 60% in the 1969 vote. However, the county vote was 42% in support of consolidation compared with about 30% support in 1969.

In 1981, the General Assembly established a third charter commission based on the 1966 constitutional amendment. The charter commission held five public meetings to obtain citizen input for the charter and enlisted the help of a governmental consulting firm to aid in the charter writing process. The charter was very detailed and included a budget for the proposed consolidated government.

A referendum was held on February 16, 1982. Although support in the city and county had increased since the 1972 vote, the consolidation referendum failed again. While 55% of the city votes were for consolidation, only 45% of the county voters supported it.

A fourth movement for consolidation began in the late 1980's. In 1988, a citizen group entitled the Quality Growth Task Force formed to examine issues related to the future of Athens and Clarke County. This group formed an ad hoc committee entitled the Government Reorganization Committee to examine the issue of consolidation. In July of 1989, both the city council and the county commission approved a resolution to establish a fifteen-member charter commission. Five members were to be appointed by the citizen task force, five by the City Council, and five by the County Commission.

The referendum for unification was held on August 7, 1990. Based on the amended Georgia Constitution, a revised voting rule was used which required two counts for passage of the referendum in Clarke County. One count was required for the city of Athens, and one count was required for the county as a whole including Athens. Previously, votes from Athens had not been counted in the total county vote. The city voted 58% in support of unification and the county 59% in favor of unification. This time, unification would have passed even under the old method (separate city and county votes). If the new voting rule had been used in the past three attempts, all three would have failed.

The new government would be run by a head elected official (now titled Mayor) and ten commissioners. With the passage of unification, Athens became the second consolidated government in Georgia and the twenty-eighth in the nation.

Additional source: "A History of the Unification of the Athens-Clarke County Government" by Douglas E. Smith

Scope and Content

The Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files document the dissolution of the governments of the city of Athens and Clarke County and the creation of a new consolidated government known as Athens-Clarke County on January 14, 1991. Documented to a lesser degree is Paul Hardy, University of Georgia Carl Vincent Institute of Government professor and attorney, and his role in the unification process and drafting of the final charter. The files consist of correspondence and memos, charter drafts and summary reports, commission meeting agendas and minutes, research materials, legal and financial information, organization charts, maps, clippings, and advertising materials.

Organization and Arrangement

The original order of the files has been maintained.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Preferred Citation

Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2010.


Related Materials

Access Points

Athens-Clarke County (Ga.)--History.
Athens-Clarke County (Ga.)--Politics and government.
Athens-Clarke County (Ga.). Charter Commission--Public records.
Athens-Clarke County Unification Commission
Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
County government records.

Related Collections in this Repository

Homer Cooper Papers

Richard B. Russell Library Map Collection

Related Collections in Other Repositories

Athens-Clarke County consolidation collection. MS 782. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Unification Files

BoxFolder
11Athens-Clarke unification [clippings, correspondence, memoranda, and the report of the Athens-Clarke County Unification Transition Team]
12More consolidation Athens-Clarke [history of the Unification Commission, The Better Way Unification stickers, correspondence, reports]
13Newspaper material from Athens-Clarke effort [clippings]
14Executive summary
15Athens-Clarke County Unification Commission [notes, organization charts, resolutions, agendas, and charter draft], [1989-1990]
16Athens-Clarke County [notes, correspondence, memoranda, research materials, proposed charter, and budget information] (Folder 1 of 2)
17Athens-Clarke County [notes, correspondence, memoranda, research materials, proposed charter, and budget information] (Folder 2 of 2)
18[Unification Commission], [1989-1990]
19[Unification Commission], 1989-1992
110[Unification Commission and city services]
111[Unification bill and lobbying material]
112[Unification Commission and issue groups]
113Charter of Athens-Clarke, 1990
114City of Athens and Athens-Clarke proposed charters
115Athens-Clarke County Charter Commission, 1980-1990
116Proposed Charter of the Consolidated Government of Athens-Clarke County, 1972, 1981
BoxFolder
21[Neighborhood map of Athens, Inauguration Ceremony program], 1980, 1991
22Athens-Clarke County Consolidation-Clippings (folder 1 of 3), 1981
23Athens-Clarke County Consolidation-Clippings (folder 2 of 3), 1981-1982
24Athens-Clarke County Consolidation-Clippings (folder 3 of 3), 1981