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Judge to rule on Dunedin spat by February

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell said he will decide before February whether the Save the Police Committee's ballot language aimed at keeping the Dunedin Police Department is legal.

Gerald Figurski, an attorney for the committee, said he believes the judge's ruling will come much sooner than that.

The next general election is in February.

Dunedin City Attorney John Hubbard agreed that the decision will probably come soon. Figurski and Hubbard argued in court before city officials, residents and Sheriff Everett Rice on Thursday on the legality of the ballot language.

In April, Hubbard said the ballot language, on a petition signed by more than 4,000 residents, was incomplete because it does not mention the city's contract with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which is slated to take over for the Police Department on Oct. 1.

But Figurski argued Thursday that the ballot question is clear and needs to state only the chief purpose of the measure, which is to maintain the city's police department. He said terminating the sheriff's contract would simply be a result of keeping the police and does not need to be mentioned.

But Hubbard said without that clause, the committee's ballot language fails to give residents full information on the issue.

Morris Silberman, an attorney who argued Thursday for the pro-sheriff Save Our City committee, agreed with Hubbard that the ballot question is unclear.