2007-09-29 / News

Fire/EMS contract dispute resolved

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - Walnut Township Trustee Wally Gabriel delivered two checks Wednesday morning to the Village of Millersport. One, for $ 31,329.11, had been written last July 10 and was to be paid to the village on July 24. The other check for $243,883.36 was approved by trustees Tuesday night and due to the village Sept. 24.

With the two checks, Walnut Township's payments for fire/EMS services provided by the Millersport Fire Department at the Millersport and FairfieldBeach stations are now current. Vince Popo, acting fiscal officerfor Millersport, warned Millersport Village Council members two weeks ago that the firefund balance was getting low.

The firecontract and the held July payment didn't come up in the trustees' meeting Tuesday night until resident Carol King asked if the check due Sept. 24 was part of the payments trustees approved earlier in the meeting. Fiscal officerPauline Ety said it was and that she had signed it. Ety said it is up to the trustees whether to sign it as well.

"I don't think holding up the firedepartment's money is being a good steward of our money," King added. She said the information that the trustees say hasn't been provided is available. All trustees need to do is ask for it. Her comments prompted a rather pointed exchange with Trustee Sonny Dupler and other firedepartment members present.

"They (Millersport) have basically broken the contract," he said. Dupler said the department still had about $160,000 left in the fund. "When you get to crunch time, hopefully you will get the stuff out here," he added. Millersport Lt. Jerry Murphy asked Dupler to specificallylist the information that trustees want before releasing the checks. "I've got six things highlighted," Dupler responded. Gabriel pointed out that the village had provided proof of insurance, including naming the township on the policy. Earlier, Dupler acknowledged that Popo had provided the general ledger information. Dupler still had some questions about the run reports and equipment inspections.

"I invite you to come to the firehouse tonight," Murphy told trustees. He promised to give them whatever information they needed and to make copies if necessary. Murphy asked trustees if the checks would then be released. Trustees agreed the checks would be delivered Wednesday.

After trustees finished an executive session concerning personnel, the meeting was reconvened in the Millersport Fire Station. Murphy, now joined by Fire Chief Bill Yates who had returned from a bus trip to a cross country meet, gave trustees a binder detailing each fire/EMS run (minus any personal medical information) from Jan. 1 through Sept. 23. Inspection record binders for each piece of rolling equipment were also presented. Normally, they are kept in the specific vehicle.

"I don't think we need copies of equipment checks," Gabriel said. He believes a monthly summary statement would be sufficientto address any concerns from the township's insurance company. "There is no sense duplicating all this stuff," he added.

Though it isn't required by the contract, Gabriel asked for a firedepartment roster. Yates quickly provided a roster listing names (but not addresses which are excluded from public records), rank and certifications. Billy Phillips, township firemarshal, said trustees want him to work with the department as an ombudsman. Murphy and others invited trustees to stop by the firestation whenever they had any questions. The rancor earlier in the meeting had disappeared by the time the meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

In other business Tuesday night, trustees approved contracts for salt purchase with the Villages of Millersport, Pleasantville and Thurston. The township purchases the salt and resells it at cost to the villages. The price is up $1 per ton this year to $42.35 per ton. The township also provides snow plowing services to the Village of Thurston. That contract is for a maximum of $1,800 this winter, up from $1,500 last winter.

Several Sellers Drive residents appeared to complain about Smitty's allowing patrons to park on residential property. Michael Hickey provided copies of a Smitty's ad in The Shopper, offering ample parking for "friends" and a flyer distributed making the same offer.

"He is clearly advertising Smitty's has parking available on residential property," Hickey said. "We wanted to bring this to your attention."

Township road supervisor Randy Kemmerer told trustees that Smitty's owner Roman Pallone had been ordered to stop filling an area with gravel until he receives a permit from the FairfieldCounty Regional Planning Commission to place fillin a floodway.

Trustees promised to keep an eye on the situation. "We're going to be squeaky wheel and keep coming back," Hickey promised trustees.

Trustees also unanimously approved an application seeking $506,972 in an Issue 1 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to widen and repair Cherry Lane from Ohio 204 north to Blacklick Eastern Road. The township's share is 25.1 percent or $169,893. The roadway is currently 16 feet wide. Width would be increased to 18 feet with two foot improved shoulders on each side.

Trustees' next regular meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the township complex.

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