Community Action Derails City County Merger Plan

Public officials, AFSCME Local 101 members, leaders from the Dayton NAACP and local church and community groups succeeded in a drive that stopped a proposal to merge the governments of Dayton and Montgomery County.

“This is the first time in a long time that Republicans and Democrats are on the same page. The Mayor, the City Commission, and two out of three County Commissioners are against the plan,” said Ann Sulfridge, president of AFSCME Local 101, the union representing both city and county workers.

The final blow to the merger plan was delivered by the  Dayton City Commission’s recent decision to annex city-owned land in Greene County. Merging cities that cross multiple county boundaries is complicated and difficult under state law.

Dayton Mayor Ann Whaley said the city annexed the land to protect the water system and because it would impede consolidation efforts.

The merger plan put forward by the non-profit group “Dayton Together” would have consolidated the governments of Dayton and Montgomery County.

Supporters claimed a more unified local government structure can help build a stronger regional economy and save money by cutting costs and duplication of services.

However a closer look at other city/county mergers showed little long term saving and a lot of citizen discontent.

Critics also said the merger would have disenfranchised 140,000 Dayton voters and given suburban voters control over city operations. They also took exception to the behind-closed-doors way the plan was drafted.

Dayton Together has pulled its merger proposal and now plans to focus on achieving savings through shared services.

“AFSCME has always worked with the both city and the county at the bargaining table to provide efficient public services.  We’ve always been open to ideas that produce real savings while maintaining the high quality of the services our members now provide,” Sulfridge said.

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Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, center, speaks for the coalition in opposition to city county merger plan.

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