McCracken County and Paducah residents went to the polls on November 6, 2012 to answer the following question, "Are you in favor of merging the governments of the City of Paducah and McCracken County into a Charter County Government under the terms and conditions of the Comprehensive Plan for the Creation of the Paducah/McCracken County Charter Government, dated May 4, 2012?" The question asked for a yes or no answer with an overwhelming majority voting against consolidating the two government entities. The unofficial results are listed in the table below.
The Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce created an informational website (paducahmccrackenunited) regarding the possibility of merging the City and County governments. The website is no longer active.
The Charter County Government Merger Committee conducted four public meetings in 2012 to present the proposed Comprehensive Plan for the merger of city and county government. The meeting format included copies of the plan, maps of proposed districts, comment forms, and answer and comment stations. The meetings were January 12 at Reidland High School; January 26 at Paducah Tilghman High School; February 2 at Heath High School; and February 16 at Lone Oak High School. Each forum was two hours long, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
In 2009, McCracken County and the City of Paducah approved ordinances to create the Joint Consolidation Study Commission to study the question of the adoption of a charter county form of government (merged government) in accordance with Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 67.825 through 67.875.
The McCracken County Fiscal Court approved studying the charter county form of government in January 2009 and named its commission members at its May 11, 2009 meeting. The City approved studying the charter county form of government May 26, 2009 and appointed its members June 9, 2009. The Joint Consolidation Study Commission consists of 12 members appointed by the County and 8 members appointed by the City with the Judge-Executive as the chairman and 21st member. As outlined in KRS 67.83, the ratio of the members is based upon the ratio of the percentage of population residing within the city to the countywide population. The City’s appointments are Lawrence Durbin, Tom Garrett, Bill Jones, Mike Karnes, Dan Key, Maurie McGarvey, John Williams, Jr., and Carol Young.
The Joint Consolidation Study Commission is responsible for determining if a merged government would be the best for the City and County and for developing a description of the form, structure, functions, powers, and name of the proposed charter county government. After drafting a proposed charter, a referendum for the voters would be held possibly in November 2012.
The Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce supports a merged City/County government and initiated the Government Reorganization Task Force in 2004 to study the topic. The task force released its report in June 2008.