Ind. Chief Pushes Merger With Indy

INDIANAPOLIS --

The proposed merger of the Lawrence Township and Indianapolis Fire departments took a step forward Tuesday night.

Lawrence Township Trustee Russell Brown introduced a resolution to start the process, 6News' Derrik Thomas reported.

Lawrence Township firefighters voted to take a 10 percent pay cut this year so no jobs would be cut. But those kinds of savings aren't sustainable without a merger, officials said.

"The members are still going to take runs. They are still going to take pride in their jobs. We just have to get this merger happening so the pay cut doesn't last as long," said Chief Michael Blackwell.

After the resolution was introduced, the township advisory board will set a public hearing date, most likely in February 2010, before voting on the issue. The City-County Council would then have to pass an ordinance and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard would have to sign on.

Although Brown said it is not known what the merger would cost, he said it is critical for the future.

"Long term, I think it saves money for taxpayers. Whether it does in the short-term depends on what the results of merger negotiations are," Brown said.

Lawrence Township fire provides fire protection for more than 100,000 residents and 1,250 businesses.

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