4 COMMUNITIES Mayor looks for merger



A 20-minute meeting initiated communication among four communities.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CAMPBELL -- Eventually, Campbell, Struthers, Coitsville and Lowellville will consolidate services. It won't happen overnight, but years from now, it will happen, predicted Jack Dill, mayor of Campbell.
Campbell Council President Robert P. Yankle invited leaders from all four communities to a meeting Monday to begin discussions pertaining to efforts all four communities could make to save money and improve efficiency.
Combining purchasing power, for instance, might help reduce costs for things such as road salt for all four jurisdictions, Dill said.
However, there are many differences among the communities that will prevent them from combining safety forces and other departments, at least in the near future.
Some differences
The two largest cities, Campbell and Struthers, have very basic differences, noted John Sveda, director of safety services for Struthers.
Campbell has a charter government; Struthers has a statutory government. Amendments in Campbell's charter dictate how many police officers and firefighters must be retained. "We never negotiate manpower," Sveda said. That is one of many differences that would need to be overcome if services were ever combined.
The 20-minute meeting was not so much to discuss how to combine forces, Dill said, but to initiate communication among the adjoining communities so that eventually, "whether it's by choice or survival," at least some services could be consolidated.
"There's a lot of footwork that has to be done, a lot of things that have to come together," Dill said. "These are baby steps but eventually, maybe the baby steps will lead to something good. We aren't going to combine police and fire today, but maybe five, 10, 15 years down the road ..."
More meetings
Dill said he hopes community leaders will continue to meet every few months to discuss how they can help each other and themselves.
He also said that as the brownfield connecting Campbell, Struthers and Lowellville develops, cementing the communities together, he expects that there will be even more efforts and cooperation in responding to emergency calls and clearing snow in areas where the communities adjoin.
Before services could be united, he said, Campbell would have to have something to offer its neighbors. To do that, Campbell must first work its way out of fiscal emergency. Eventually, the city would also need to make changes to its charter, Dill said.
kubik@vindy.com

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