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Councilman seeks vote on charter change

Lawmakers could contract out police, fire departments

FOSTORIA — A city councilman wants voters to approve a city charter change that would allow council to make major changes to the police and fire departments — or abolish them altogether.

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Fostoria's water tower behind several homes on Buckley St. in Fostoria. Councilman Mathew Davoli has proposed legislation that, if approved in on the November ballot, would give council the power to scrap police and fire departments or contract with other agencies to provide those services.

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Mathew Davoli has proposed legislation that, if approved on the November ballot, would give council the power to scrap police and fire departments or contract with other agencies to provide those services. The charter now prohibits council from making such changes without first receiving authorization from voters.

Mr. Davoli said he’s not interested in shutting down the departments. Instead, he wants council to pursue a pay-per-service system to augment its full-time, unionized fire department. He also wants council to consider outsourcing emergency medical services.

“I'm trying to find ways to still provide services in a cost effective way,” he said.

Mr. Davoli tried earlier this year to get the charter change placed on the ballot, but he was rebuffed by his council colleagues. The previous attempt would have put the ballot question before voters during a special election, but this time the legislation calls for it to be on the general November ballot.

“Ultimately, it would be up to the people if they wanted this change or not,” he said.

His proposal comes amid the city’s attempt to exit fiscal emergency, a designation given by State Auditor Dave Yost in May because of large budget deficits.

A five-year plan approved last week by a commission tasked with overseeing the city’s finances calls for the layoffs of more than a dozen employees if a 6-mill property tax levy fails in November. Most of those layoffs would be in the police and fire departments.

Among the cuts in the plan is the outsourcing of the police dispatch department.

Attempts to reach Fostoria Firefighters Local 325 President Randy Ruble on Monday were unsuccessful.

Fostoria City Council is to meet at 6 p.m. today.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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