2008-12-06 / News

Trustees approve two-year contract with Granville

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON - Union Township Trustees unanimously agreed to a two-year contract with the Granville Township Fire Department for EMS and fire protection for the portion of the township north of the CSX railway.

The contract will cost the township $65,000 for 2009 and $80,000 for 2010. As trustees weigh several options for township EMS and fire protection, Trustee President John Slater said during Monday night's regular trustees meeting that it will take at least two years for the township to make any significant changes to the existing fire service - if it makes any changes at all - so continuing the contract with Granville makes sense for the time being.

Two weeks ago, trustees heard from their fire service consultant- William Kramer, of Kramer & Associates of Cincinnati. Kramer was hired early this year after trustees learned that the Granville Township Fire Department would charge Union Township $50,000 in 2008 to provide fire and EMS service for the portion of the township north of the CSX railway.

Hebron and Buckeye Lake, fire departments cover the rest of the township. Until this year, the township's most expensive annual contract with the previously private Granville Fire Department was $18,000. Trustees paid Kramer & Associates about $14,000 to research alternatives.

Kramer told trustees that Union Township basically has four options:

• Maintaining the status quo and contine to contract with Granville, Hebron, and Buckeye Lake, for fire and EMS services;

• Form a joint fire district with Hebron and possibly (but not necessarily) Granville, Heath, and Buckeye Lake as well;

• Contract with other fire departments, possibly Heath; or

• Form an independent Union Township fire department.

Trustees made no decisions about the future of township fire protection Monday night beyond reaching an agreement with Granville.

Trustee Jack Justice said Monday night that he estimates the Granville department makes about 59 squad runs into Union Township annually, which translates to roughly $1,100 per run. "Quite frankly, that's a little less than what we're paying Hebron," he said. "I don't have a problem with the $65,000 for the first year." For 2010, each run will cost about $1,300.

Granville Township Clerk Norm Kennedy, who attended Monday's meeting, said the two-year contract also gives the Granville department some time to figure out its costs. Granville Township Fire Chief Jeff Hussey, also present, said his department has a part-time fire prevention officer whom he hoped could do fire inspections at Union Township properties.

Slater said he's heard that Hebron fire prevention officer Ron Jones is nearing retirement and Slater knows of a few people willing to help with fire prevention.

Township resident Dan Gibson, who lives within Granville's coverage area, said he was disappointed with Kramer's Nov. 17 presentation. "It seems like Kramer owes us a few details," he said, questioning if the study was worth $14,000.

"(The presentation) was vague at best," said Justice. He said Kramer provided more details to the trustees.

Slater said he thought the township received its money's worth from Kramer.

Justice said the study "brings all the fire departments down from the pie in the sky," or keeps them from over-charging the township by providing an independent perspective. Justice recalled that one of Hussey's several contract proposals for 2008 cost roughly $150,000. He said he wants to be sure the various departments, including Hebron, don't simply look at the township's tax revenue and demand it for services. Justice said the township has exhausted its capital improvement money to cover EMS and fire protection. On the other hand, Justice said the township is "blessed" with excellent fire departments and trustees need to "think hard" before breaking ties with any of them.

In a related matter, Justice said he won't support a Hebron fire and EMS contract until Med 3000 is directly providing trustees with the EMS billing revenue generated in the township. Med 3000 is a Pittsburgh based medical administration company that manages Hebron's EMS billing. Trustees believed they would be getting the information directly when they agreed to start billing for EMS transports. So far, that hasn't happened.

Slater is satisfied with the figures the Hebron department provides and trusts them, but agreed with Justice that getting it directly from Med3000 provides a check and balance. However, Slater said Wednesday that the Med 3000 issue would not keep him from approving an otherwise acceptable contract with Hebron. Slater prefers to see the revenue - more than $53,000 since July 2007 - be used for the department's operating expenses rather than capital improvements.

Justice said the township covers 60 percent of the Hebron Fire Department's budget, but less than 60 percent of its squad runs go into Union Township. "And, they're using township equipment to make the runs," he said. Justice wants to see the EMS billing revenue the township generates to "go to the township and stay there," and be credited to a capital improvement fund. Justice doesn't dispute the numbers Hebron generated , but it's just a matter of principle and check and balances. "Hebron Fire has always been reluctant on checks and balances," said Justice, adding that $53,000 is a lot of money and "we need to have some accounting."

Slater said Wednesday that he hopes the trustees can agree upon a contract with Hebron fire during the next trustees meeting, Dec. 15, 7 p.m. at the township hall.

In other township news:

• Justice said the township road supervisor believes the township needs snow plow blades on both of the township's pick-up trucks to plow township subdivisions. The problem is it's nearly impossible to see where the subdivision roads are when a few inches of snow cover them. He said the township dump trucks, which also plow snow, occasionally get stuck in the ditches along the subdivision roads. Since they don't have four-wheel drive, like the pick up trucks, they must be towed from the ditches.

Slater wondered if contracting with a private plowing company to plow only the subdivisions would cost less than equipping two pick-up trucks to plow.

Justice said currently only the township's older pick-up truck has a snowplow blade and the truck is "on its last leg." Transferring the blade to the newer truck would cost roughly $1,532 because a new bracket is needed. Currently, he said the township has two dump trucks and one pick up truck capable of plowing. Justice said he'd look into pricing private plowing companies, but only concentrate on one or two subdivisions to see how it goes.

Trustee Jessie Ours asked why the township doesn't place markers along subdivision roads for the plows to follow.

"We did," replied Justice, but they are knocked over continually.

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