The city of Lexington was founded in 1775. Fayette County was founded in 1780. By 1970, Lexington's population of more than 100,000 had qualified it as a "first-class" city and various city leaders seriously began to consider merging the city and county governments as an alternative to the first-class city designation.
In order to facilitate the operation of local government, to prevent duplication of services, and to promote efficient and economical management of the affairs of local government, the voters in any county except a county containing a city of the first class may merge all units of city and county government into an urban-county form of government. Such merger shall take place only after compliance with the procedures set forth in KRS 67A.020. – KRS 67A.010
The merger of the Lexington and Fayette County governments was the result of almost four years of planning. In 1971, after a well-publicized citizen petition drive, the City Commission and County Fiscal Court appointed a Merger Commission. In an election held on Nov. 7, 1972, more than 70% of voters approved what is now the Charter of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government ("Merged Government Charter" or "Charter"); they accepted the merger commission's proposed Merged Government Charter by an overwhelming margin. On Jan. 1, 1974, the city of Lexington and Fayette County became the first Kentucky communities to consolidate city and county governments into a single system.