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Group launches merger proposal of Dayton, Montgomery County

Draft plan focuses on city and county-level structure.Other cities, townships would keep their local structure.

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley on Thursday released the details of a much-anticipated and controversial charter proposal to merge the city of Dayton and Montgomery County.

The proposal, developed by the private group Dayton Together over six months, would create the Dayton Metro government overseen by an elected council and manager appointed by council members.

>> OPINION: Dan Foley, Paul Leonard explain plan

>> RELATED: Key points of proposed merger plan

The metro structure would feature a mayor selected by all county voters and 10 elected representatives from newly created geographic districts, including one at-large seat representing the entire county.

The new districts would have similar-sized populations and include residents from multiple jurisdictions.

Foley said the new model seeks to stem the tide of population loss and state funding reductions.

He said the current systems of local government are antiquated and too often result in service duplication and jurisdictions competing with each other when cooperating would be more effective at attracting new jobs and investment.

“We’ve got good people working in a really out-of-date system,” Foley said.

He said the new government structure would help address poverty and other challenges facing the community.

“We believe we have created a better government, one that will allow us to compete economically, one that will help us tackle challenges like poverty around the same table,” Foley said.

Dayton Together said it will not put the charter initiative on the ballot this year.

Members said in coming months they will share the proposal with the community to collect feedback and will conduct a financial study to determine if a merger would save taxpayers money.

The charter initiative has been a considerable source of controversy since it was first publicly announced last summer.

Some city and county leaders earlier contended that a metro-style form of government could disenfranchise minority voters and has no obvious benefits, economic and otherwise.

Dayton Together officials said the plan would create three minority-majority districts that they believe could lead to the first minority candidate serving at the county commission level in Montgomery County.

“This can be a government reflective of a diverse community,” said Paul Leonard, former Ohio lieutanant governor and former Dayton mayor.

Cities other than Dayton and townships would retain their current local structure of city councils or trustees. They also would be part of the geographic districts that would elect their county representative on the 10-member Dayton Metro panel. Local council members or trustees could not also hold a seat on the proposed Dayton Metro council.

For the latest on this developing story, download the WHIO mobile app.

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