It is unclear whether Ravenna will add another dispatcher after a measure to add a third dispatcher was narrowly voted down in committee Monday.
City Council's Finance Committee deadlocked 3-3 on moving the ordinance to the March 4 council meeting. Council President Fran Ricciardi broke the tie, voting agaisnt the measure.
Ricciardi and Councilman Bruce Ribelin were uncertain of the proposal's future. Ribelin, who chairs council's Health and Public Safety Committee, thinks council should be able to vote on it.
"I think we've had more than ample discussion," he said.
Ricciardi said he thinks the discussions would have to return to Square One if the proposal is to come back. He said this is the first time he's broken a tie in his tenure as council president.
Council members Amy Michael, Sharon Spencer and Fred Berry voted against the proposal, with Ribelin and Councilmen Frank Seman and Jack Ferguson voting yes. Ricciardi then was called to break the 3-3 tie.
Councilman Scott Rainone was out of town on business.
Ribelin said it was unfortunate that Rainone was absent, because the Ward 4 councilman had previously spoken in favor of the additional dispatcher.
"I'm just asking people to think outside the box," he said. "We've got to look to the future, and the future is regionalism."
Ricciardi said he remains opposed to adding the dispatcher because the money for the position would come from the city's general fund.
"The general fund is in the red," he said. "I'm always focused on 'Where does the money come from?'"
Police Chief Timothy Adkins recently told Ribelin's committee that the dispatch center's call volume has increased dramatically since 2010, when it began to serve fire departments in surrounding townships.
"Our calls have already gone up 66 percent, and we haven't added a soul," Adkins told the committee.
Mayor Joseph Bica released a statement after the meeting, expressing his disappointment in the decision.
"The members who rejected this proposal clearly have a lack of vision and understanding of how the city is working towards collaborative efforts in our Portage County community," he said. "The expansion efforts of our dispatch center promote better service for police and fire and continue to offset our own city dispatch expenses."
In other business, council held a special meeting to approve legislation to refinance $5 million in bonds for Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna.
Finance Director Kim Cecora said the library will be able to get a "much better interest rate" as a result of the refunding, or refinancing, of the 2003 debt.
Seman pointed out that the city actually owns the library until the debt is paid off, because the library couldn't apply for the bonds on its own and needed the city's backing.
Cecora said it is not clear exactly how much taxpayers will save as a result of the deal.
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