SALEM FIRE DEPARTMENT Elections board to be asked to change ballot language



A proposed ordinance -- not the ballot language -- would go into effect if voters agree.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- The Columbiana County Board of Elections will be asked to change the ballot language for two initiative petitions about the Salem Fire Department.
The petitions would prevent the city from abolishing its fire department or joining a fire district without public votes.
Justin Palmer of Salem, who helped create the petitions, said the present language doesn't reflect the main issue: the public voting on the issue.
The city is in talks to create a new department with Perry Township to save money.
The language that voters will see on the November ballot for the elimination petition reads:
"Shall an ordinance prohibiting the municipal government of the city of Salem, Columbiana County, state of Ohio, from abolishing or eliminating the fire department, as presently constituted, as a department of the city of Salem be adopted?"
The ballot language for the petition on district formation is similar.
Actual language
The actual language of the proposed ordinance on abolition reads: "The municipal government of the city of Salem, Columbiana County, state of Ohio, acting officially by and through its duly elected and appointed officials, shall take no action, either through executive resolution, order or decree, or through resolution or ordinance passed by the city of Salem council, or by any other lawful means, to abolish and/or eliminate the fire department as presently constituted, of the city of Salem, Columbiana County, state of Ohio, and may only abolish and/or eliminate the fire department of the municipality, as presently constituted, if that issue is specifically put forward as a ballot issue, subject to the electorate of the city of Salem, Columbiana County, state of Ohio, and determined by a majority vote of the citizens of the city of Salem, Columbiana County, state of Ohio, at [a] general, primary or special election."
That's the ordinance that would go into effect if voters approve it. The wording of the petition regarding formation of a fire district is similar.
Palmer said the proposed ordinances would allow city officials to discuss abolishing the fire department and forming the district, and make them explain the proposal to the public. Palmer has noted that council often passes legislation as emergency legislation.
Thursday was the filing deadline for the November ballot. The board of elections has yet to formally place the issues on the ballot.
The language that will appear on the ballot was created by city officials.
Council issued a letter late Thursday explaining its position.
The letter states that because of sagging revenue and increased costs, the city must either cut back or increase revenue.
Council prepared legislation for a fire levy and an income tax increase, but did not place either on the ballot.
wilkinson@vindy.com

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