2007-12-08 / News

Time is running out on 2008 fire/EMS contract

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - Walnut Township Trustees talked Tuesday night about replacing carpet and tile in their meeting room, a new recording system for meetings and a possible new truck purchase. But they didn't talk about the 2008 contract with the Village of Millersport for fire/ EMS services that covers most of the township.

The issue wasn't even mentioned until new Millersport Council member Paul Detty asked about the contract status at the end of the meeting. Trustee Sonny Dupler said the contract should be delivered to the village's attorney this week. Detty asked about the possibility of returning to multiyear contracts. "You'll findthat out when you get the contract," Dupler told Detty.

The Village of Millersport via the Millersport Fire Department has contracted for years with Walnut Township to provide fire/EMS services for most of the township. Until this year, each contract covered four years. In November 2006, township voters, including Village of Millersport residents, narrowly approved an additional three mill permanent levy to fund 24/7 on-station staffing at the Millersport Fire Station. That coverage began January 1. Twelve hour, seven day per week coverage began last spring at the FairfieldBeach firestation.

Until voters approved three additional mills last year, Millersport had been providing 10 hours a day coverage, seven days a week on-station coverage using a 65 percent allocation of the township's revenue from three one-mill firelevies. Two of those levies were converted to permanent status last month.

It took months earlier this year to even produce a contract. Last April 24, trustees unanimously approved a one-year contract and paid Millersport the first installation. That contract included a specific time limit to respond to calls which Millersport could not accept. Millersport received a revised contract from the township's special legal counsel in late July. That contract was signed by the village and given to trustees on July 24. Millersport's was still waiting for an executed copy of that contract in September, finally learning that the village's copy had been given to a council member.

Relations between the village and the township, particularly with Dupler, have been contentious all year long. Walnut Township refused to make its second installment payment due July 24 contending that the village wasn't providing all the information required in the contract. That $31,329.11 payment and the third payment of $243,883.36 due Sept. 24 were delivered to Millersport on Sept. 26. Those payments were made after trustees reconvened their Sept. 25 meeting at the Millersport Fire Station. The meeting moved there after Millersport Lt. Jerry Murphy asked Dupler to specificallylist the information that trustees wanted before releasing the payment checks. Fire Chief Bill Yates and Murphy provided everything trustees requested and the dispute appeared resolved. Trustees said Billy Phillips, township fire marshal, would work with the department as an ombudsman.

Millersport officials and firedepartment members have for weeks been asking trustees about the 2008 contract. Last month, Millersport officials told Yates to wait until they saw the contract before scheduling the part-time staff beyond Dec. 31.

Dupler's comment to Detty Tuesday night fueled suspicions that the 2008 contract will be unacceptable to the village. Time is running out to get it resolved before the current contract expires. Millersport Council meets at 7 p.m. next Tuesday and trustees have one more scheduled meeting this year. It's set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

In other business Tuesday night, trustees decided to get at least one more bid before making a decision on replacing the carpet and tile in their meeting room. Fiscal OfficerPauline Ety, with support from zoning inspector Ralph Reeb, told trustees that the current tape-based recording system isn't adequate. She proposed a digital recording system that can quickly generate CDs of the meetings. The cost is about $700. Trustees decided to look at additional options after a resident said they could have a digital video and audio system for about $1,500.

After some discussion, trustees unanimously decided to accept the second settlement offer from Lion Construction Company for damage done to Rosewood Drive between Lakeshore and Fairview Beach roads. The company was a contractor for Compass Point and originally offered $3,500. After inspecting the road again, the offer was increased to $5,000. "It's the best we're going to get," road supervisor Randy Kemmerer told trustees.

Trustees also formally approved a verbal authorization made at a special meeting Nov. 29. The action approves the purchase of a new International truck chassis for a new medic for the Walnut Township-Thurston Fire Department. The cost is around $65,000, but neither trustees nor Fire Chief Jim Hite had the details at the meeting. Quick action was required to place an order before a Dec. 1 price increase. Specificationsfor the medic box have not been completed.

Trustees also signed a 90-day listing agreement with HER Realtors of Lancaster for the sale of the old Pleasant Township Fire Station. The building will be listed at $190,000. Walnut Township will receive 20 percent of the proceeds while Pleasant Township gets the rest.

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