CAMPBELL Fire chief must retest to maintain his job
A court of appeals ruling states the chief was unfairly appointed.
By PAUL WHEATLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CAMPBELL -- David Horvath must retest for the fire chief position he's held for more than six years after the 7th District Court of Appeals declared Monday he was unfairly appointed.
Horvath was appointed fire chief by Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in 1996 after Roy Stanfar suffered a heart attack. The court said Horvath's appointment was active as of Aug. 19, 1995, the same day Stanfar was disabled by a second heart attack.
According to Monday's court ruling, written by 7th District Court Judge Mary DeGenaro, then-Mayor George Tablack terminated Stanfar and appointed Horvath, then a captain, to the position in 1996.
Petition: But city fire Capt. Nick Hrelec filed a petition with the common pleas court that same year, requesting that he be appointed temporary fire chief.
A common pleas court judge issued an order in 1998 that said Horvath had never been the lawful fire chief, that the city had not had a lawful fire chief since July 28, 1997, and had not given a civil service test to provide a list of eligible replacements for Stanfar.
That ruling was reversed by trial court in 1999 after Horvath appealed.
But the court of appeals ruling Monday said the city was allowed to make only six-month temporary appointments from its civil service eligibility list from the day of Stanfar's resignation.
Mayor's response: Mayor John Dill said the ruling puts him in an uncomfortable position since Horvath has served as the city's fire chief the entire time Dill has been in office.
"This is very interesting," he said.
Dill didn't know how soon the civil service test would be offered.
Only Horvath, Hrelec and the department's two other captains are eligible for the chief position.
Hrelec said he was stunned by the decision. And while he said he maintains a good working relationship with Horvath, he'd still like a shot at the position.
He declined to comment further until he hears from his lawyer.
Neither Horvath nor city Law Director Brian Macala could be reached to comment.