FOSTORIA, OH (WTOL) - A vital ballot issue in Fostoria has more than a dozen city service jobs on the line.
"This problem started years ago, even prior administrations," said Fostoria firefighter and president of Local 325 fire union Randy Ruble. "It's kind of a snowball effect. So now it's to the point where the snowball has hit the bottom of the hill and it's rather large."
The Fostoria Fire Department has not been at full staff since 2001. Currently they have 14 full time firefighters with only the capabilities of responding to one major call at a time.
The police department is in a similar state, currently with a staff of 20 including 17 patrol officers to answer 13,000 calls per year.
Even though they have been under funded for years, they have found a way to remain at an active level to continue services for the city.
"Our safety services spend about 67 to 72 percent of our General Fund, most cities spend 80 plus percent of their general fund. So, even with a lack of revenue our safety services are coming in well under," Fostoria police officer Cory Brian said.
With the city in Fiscal Emergency, part of the mandated recovery plan is to ask voters to approve a five-year, six mil levy that would generate $3.5 million.
The levy money would increase services, adding a fourth firefighter to each shift and adding two or three police officers.
"So, hopefully with adding additional personnel we can decrease our response time and provide a better service to the city," said Ruble.
"This levy buys time for our mayor and city council to get more businesses into the city and generate that revenue we need to get back to where we need to be," said Brian
The city of Fostoria said that if the levy does not pass, they have to lay off 13 to 15 police, fire, EMT personnel and clerks, leaving the fire department and police down to a minimum two-man shift.
Brian says that is not a scare tactic, it is simply a stark reminder of the reality of the situation of a city needing to dig its way out of fiscal emergency.