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Bragging rights: Merger could make Columbia 20th largest city in Kentucky

  • Merger could take Columbia from 82nd to 20th place
  • In our online poll, slight majority favor idea of studying merger

By Ed Waggener

If Columbia and Adair County were to merge, the merged city would likely be the 20th largest in the state, with a population estimated at 17,575 in 2004.

The city's current population ranking among Kentucky cities, 82nd, trails neighbor Campbellsville by 50 places. Campbellsville's present 10,752 population puts it in 32nd place.

A combined Columbia-Adair County would replace current Number 20 city St. Matthews in population, and would trail Louisville, Lexington-Fayette, Owensboro, Bowling Green, Covington, Richmond, Hopkinsville, Hendersonville, Frankfort, Jeffersonville, Paducah, Florence, Elizabethtown, Nicholasville, Radcliff, Ashland, Georgetown, and Independence.

It would be ahead of area cities Danville (25), Glasgow (28), Somerset (29), Bardstown (31), and Campbellsville (32).

The figures used above and in the chart below are derived from the Kentucky Data Center/Kentucky Population Studies charts, which are, in turn, based on U.S. Census estimate schedules.

Adair and Neighboring Counties
Ranked by Population, 2004 estimates
from Kentucky Data Center
(Statewide rank in parenthesis)
  1. Taylor (58) - 23,479
  2. Adair(70) - 17,575
  3. Russell (74) - 16,838
  4. Casey (77) - 16,059
  5. Green (100) -11,667
  6. Metcalfe (106) - 10,165
  7. Cumberland (119) - 7,168
There have been two voted city-county mergers in Kentucky: Louisville and Jefferson County and Lexington and Fayette County. Another County, McCreary County, has county only government, because there is no incorporated city in the county.

Today, Louisville, KY, is the state's largest city again, but only because of city-county merger. For a brief time following the 2000 census, Lexington, already merged with Fayette County, was the largest county.

After Louisville merged with Jefferson County, the city vaulted from 65th largest city to the 16th in the United States.

The current survey, "Should the people of Columbia and Adair County consider merged City-County government?: now has 290 votes.

A slight majority, 147-143, favor the study of such a proposal.

So far, we have talked to any public official, civic leader, or business person come out openly in favor of the proposal. Off-the-record comments from some leaders have tended to be that it is a good idea, but that the people of Columbia and Adair County would not approve a proposal to merge.

Different with utilities

Already, there appears to be a growing acceptance of the need to merge the utilities departments in Columbia with the the Adair County Water District. Already the two utilities are jointly building a water treatment plant.

If you have not voted in our survey, you are welcome to do so at The Voting Booth: To Merge Columbia City/Adair County governments To read a national account of what happened in Louisville following merger:

To See USA TODAY story, 2002, on success of Louisville, KY after merger

This story was posted on 2005-08-11 16:16:45
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