Officials said the decision was made after Mayor David Gysberts and the City Council ignored a voter initiated petition for referendum to amend the City's Charter.
Members said a petition for referendum was passed throughout the city and more than 12,000 signatures were gathered from residents concerned about the status of their public safety services, and supporting the initiative of the local police officers and firefighters.
The petition was to place a referendum on the ballot to amend the City Charter to formally recognize firefighters and police officers and to allow "binding arbitration", which is a mediation tool used for when two sides cannot agree on specific terms. Officials said if such a situation exists, a neutral third party is asked to listen to both sides to make an informed objective decision on how to move forward. Both sides then must abide by the decision.
Hagerstown's police officers and firefighter bargaining units stated in a release the Mayor and City Council ignored the signatures of more than 20 percent of the City's registered voters, and violated their legal duty to put the measure on the ballot.
Members, along with a city resident, said they were forced to file this lawsuit so that the Mayor and City Council honor their obligation and allow this measure to go to the voters of Hagerstown to make the decision.
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