Consider safety levy in spring

To the editor:

I have been following the recent discussion in Steubenville focusing on the staffing of the fire department and the budget issues facing the city. One of the members of council states that it is a matter of money, not a personal agenda. However, his whole basis of what staffing in the fire department should be is based on his personal opinion of how many firefighters the department needs.

The people I really want to hear from are the ones who looked the voters of the city in the face 12 months ago and said that we do not need a safety levy. Three sitting council members, the Jefferson Political Action Committee and Americans for Prosperity all campaigned against the proposed safety levy under the premise that it was not needed, there were other ways to balance the budget and no one was going to cut the safety forces. What is their explanation to the citizens now that council is talking about reducing staffing in the fire department due to budget issues. Were they lying to the people then, were they now knowledgeable about city finances or were they just pushing a personal agenda under false pretenses?

I believe these people and groups should answer to the people for convincing them to vote against a safety levy that would have provided safe and adequate levels of staffing in the police and fire departments while balancing the general fund budget at the same time. It also is important to note that many of the leaders and contributors of the two outside groups that sent out mailings against the safety levy do not even reside in the city where the staffing levels are being debated. What is their interest in influencing the vote in Steubenville?

The politicians are saying that the citizens voted down the safety levy and made their choice. I say that is false. How many of the people who voted against the safety levy did so because their council person told them it was not needed? How many did so because they got a mailing from the JPAC or AFP telling them that the levy was not needed? I remember hearing a few people say, “no one was going to cut from the safety forces.”

Well, here we are. Council is talking about cutting the staffing of the fire department, which would lead to stations closing in the future. What happens down the road when that is not enough? I guess the police department is next. I suggest that another safety levy should be put on the ballot in the spring, now that we know that all of the opposition groups were wrong 12 months ago when they said that it wasn’t needed.

Kenneth Davis

Steubenville

(Editor’s note: Davis is a former Steubenville councilman at large.)

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