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Published: Wednesday, 1/12/2011

Toledo City Council elects 12th member

Toledo City Council elected a 12th member Tuesday night and agreed on two measures that will take Toledo in the direction of regionalization -- shared fire protection with Ottawa Hills and county-run refuse collection.

Paula Hicks-Hudson, 59, a Democrat, replaced former Councilman Michael Ashford in an 8-3 vote, defeating the Republican nominee, Alfonso Narvaez, 19. The vote followed council's party lines, with independent D. Michael Collins voting with the Democrats.

Council then approved a fire protection agreement with the village of Ottawa Hills, 7-5, and a resolution to allow the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District to seek proposals for taking over refuse collection in the city of Toledo, 8-4.

Mayor Mike Bell said his administration would begin meeting Wednesday with Ottawa Hills village Administrator Marc Thompson to transfer the 10-person village fire department into the city's larger system. Under the contract approved by Ottawa Hills, the village will pay $430,000 a year for the next 20 years to the city to provide fire and rescue services.

"The department has already been actively training the Ottawa Hills fire department so they're in sync with Toledo policies so it's just a matter of talking to the chief and Mr. Thompson and making sure we're set to go," Mr. Bell said.

Wayne Hartford, president of Toledo Firefighters Local 92, said the union will file a grievance because the city refused to expand the minimum staffing level from the present 103 firefighters per shift to 107 to accommodate the additional populated area.

"I'm disappointed in city council possibly putting public safety and especially our firefighter safety in jeopardy," Mr. Hartford said.

Councilman Lindsay Webb, who cast one of the no votes, said it was a mistake to ignore the firefighters' collective bargaining agreement.

"The grievance is coming. It will mean real dollars if we lose," Ms. Webb said.

Voting yes on the agreement with Ottawa Hills were council members Michael Craig, Ms. Hicks-Hudson, Rob Ludeman, Adam Martinez, George Sarantou, Tom Waniewski, and Wilma Brown. Voting no, along with Ms. Webb, were Councilmen Collins, Phillip Copeland, Joe McNamara, and Steven Steel.

The city has agreed to staff the Ottawa Hills fire house with four firefighters. The new firefighters will all be hired as privates but will be paid according to their years of experience. They will be required to pay the employee share of the pension contribution, as required for new hires to the police and fire departments.

Under the refuse collection resolution, Lucas County will be asked to seek proposals for private trash haulers to serve the city's residential customers. The alternative, according to Mayor Bell, is to more than double the current $8.50 monthly trash collection fee most citizens pay.

"We will be actively working with the county now that we have the green light to at least pursue the [request for proposals]. We will put that together realizing we have to bring portions of that back to council so they'll be okay with the process," Mr. Bell said.

Voting yes on the trash resolution were council members Craig, Hicks-Hudson, Ludeman, Sarantou, McNamara, Waniewski, Steel, and Brown. Voting no were council members Webb, Collins, Copeland, and Martinez.

Councilmen McNamara and Steel said a request for proposals doesn't bind the city and said they reserved the right to refuse to support a future contract on behalf of the city.

Teamsters Local 20 has objected to the elimination of the solid-waste work force while it has a collective bargaining agreement in force.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson, a lawyer and Old West End resident, was council's legislative director from 1998 to 2002 and is a former director of the Lucas County Board of Elections. She was chief legal counsel for management and budget under former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who lost his bid Nov. 2 for a second term. Mr. Ashford resigned because he was elected to the 48th House District seat in the Ohio General Assembly.

"It is my hope and my desire and my promise to be responsive to the citizens and the neighbors of District 4 and to work with members of council to move the city forward," Ms. Hicks-Hudson said.

Residents of the district, which includes parts of the central city and North Toledo, will have their say in a special election in May and again in a primary election and the November general election. Ms. Hicks-Hudson said she will run in those elections to hold the seat.

Mr. Narvaez, a sociology student at Lourdes College and treasurer of the Lucas County Republican Party, will also run for the seat, according to county Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook. "It was good to see Republicans supporting this guy coming into the race. I think he's got a future," Mr. Stainbrook said after the vote.

Contract Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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