2008-05-31 / News

Trustees ignore mayor's request for full payment

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - Walnut Township Trustees and the Village of Millersport are on a collision course.

Last week, Millersport Mayor Dean Severance demanded that trustees pay the village its contractual 60 percent of the township's fire/EMS tax receipts by May 23. This dispute started when trustees paid the village $128,687.20 on April 22. Village officials were expecting about $260,000 based on last year's April payment of $283,190.07 and their 60 percent contractual share of the township's fire/EMS tax receipts.

Township fiscal officerPauline Ety told Millersport assistant fiscal officerVince Popo that trustees couldn't meet the May 23 deadline set by Severance since trustees wouldn't meet until May 27. That meeting came and went without any discussion about Severance's letter or payments to the village.

Ety confirmedto The Beacon Wednesday morning that none of the checks approved by trustees May 27 were for Millersport and that no additional payments are scheduled until July 24. Ety said trustees made that decision and "I'm staying out of this."

The township's payment register for the first four months of 2008, obtained by The Beacon via a public records request, shows that Ety wrote a $257,374.41 check to the Village of Millersport on April 22. That check is listed as void, immediately followed by a $128,687.20 check to Millersport. There was no public discussion at the April 22 trustees meeting about cutting Millersport's payment in half, so the decision to void Ety's first check must have been made in an illegal private trustees meeting.

Ety has referenced several times trustees' desire to make "quarterly" payments. But the dates and numbers don't compute. Payment dates set in the contract are not quarterly, with the first payment scheduled nearly four months into the year. The dates were set to coincide with the township's receipt of fire/EMS tax payments from the county. The first and third payments were understood to be the largest since they are tied to the twice-annual real estate property tax payments.

In addition, 60 percent of the county auditor's Certificateof Estimated Resources for the township's fire/EMS levies is $540,000 which would make payments of $135,000 each if they were truly made quarterly.

The 50 percent short payment is putting a pinch on the Village of Millersport. Since last September, Millersport has received a total of $166,150 for a now eight month period. That doesn't even pay for Millersport's personnel expenses to meet the contractually required staffing levels at the FairfieldBeach and Millersport firestations. Staff expenses are about $26,000 a month and now total some $208,000. If trustees continue to hold money until late July, Millersport will have spent some $260,000 on EMTs and paramedics while receiving just $166,150 from the township. Total expenses, which include fuel, supplies, vehicle maintenance and vehicle payments, are much higher.

Trustees have one more opportunity to defuse this issue since their next regular meeting is 10 hours before the next village council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10. Trustees meet at 9 a.m. in the township offices.

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