Updated: Fire station not a decision for voters, city attorney says

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Gina Duwe
Monday, June 2, 2014

JANESVILLE—The Janesville city attorney says a resident's plan to let voters decide on a new fire station plan “fails to satisfy the requirements for a valid direct legislation ballot question,” according to a city news release.

Resident Billy McCoy last week told city council members he would begin distributing petitions for direct legislation in June. The petition will ask the council to rescind its decision to spend $9 million on a new central fire station.

McCoy said Monday afternoon he would continue his plans despite the city attorney's opinion.

“I'm not going to give this up because I feel that the city attorney feels that City Hall still wants this fire station built, but us citizens, we can not afford it,” he said.

According to the city news release:

The city manager informed council members today of a preliminary legal opinion from City Attorney Wald Klimczyk that the petition for direct legislation doesn't qualify because:

-- The subject of the petition is administrative. Wisconsin Statute Section 9.20 states that valid direct legislation ballot questions must relate to legislative decisions.

-- The proposed petition attempts to repeal a council decision. State statutes dictate that direct legislation may not undo or conflict with prior lawful actions of the city council.

McCoy said he gave city officials a draft of his petition, labeled “Void,” last week to let them know his intentions. He said he is looking into the wording and will “make sure everything is corrected in the right wording.”

This story will be updated.

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