- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Opponents of a proposal to combine a southwest Ohio county and the city of Dayton said the merger could disenfranchise voters, eliminate self-governance and fail to improve services.

At the first of three town hall meetings, a panel of community leaders and officials on Monday lashed out against the consolidation plan to combine the governments of Dayton and the surrounding Montgomery County, the Dayton Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/1VUH83Y).

Dayton Together, a nonprofit group, released a draft of a charter outlining the plan in February.

Paul Leonard, co-chair of the charter development committee, said the merger is being explored to determine if there’s a better system that could improve efficiency and make the region more competitive.

He said that Dayton Together’s advisory committee is looking at raising private funds to pay for a cost study to analyze if a merger would reduce the local tax burden, through lower taxes or fewer tax levies.

Critics said the merger plan fails to address issues it seeks to remedy, such as poverty and job loss. They said the plan would replace the county’s elected offices with appointed positions and harm accountability.

But Leonard said that criticism of the charter proposal is premature because the document is still under development and much remains undecided.

“Our side is absolutely committed- if the cost study justifies it, which is a big if -of letting the people of this community have the final voice,” Leonard said.

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, https://www.daytondailynews.com

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