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Voters reject study on county-city government merger
Cindy Vetter arrives early Tuesday morning to voting precinct West Whelchel at Gainesville First United Methodist Church along with dozens of other voters to cast their ballot shortly after the polls open at 7 a.m.

Hall voters narrowly defeated a ballot referendum asking if they supported a study on the cost and feasibility of merging local county and municipal governments.

Voters rejected the proposal 52 percent to 48 percent, with a total turnout of 74.5 percent.

Hall Commissioner Scott Gibbs had been the biggest proponent of such a merger and said he would continue to press the issue and educate residents about potential benefits.

He believes there is too much overlap in services that ultimately costs taxpayers.

Calls to merge the Hall County and Gainesville governments are not new.

Gainesville would be most impacted by a merger, and city officials roundly oppose the idea. They point to a study in the early 1990s that delivered mixed results on the cost savings and efficiencies a merger might generate.

Competition between Hall and Gainesville has ebbed and flowed in intensity over the years. But there’s a lot at stake to fight over.

Other issues include annexations of unincorporated lands, which county officials say costs them tax revenue.