2009-06-06 / News

Union Township wants 60% of Hebron EMS revenue

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON - The ball's back in Hebron's court in the EMS billing revenue match between Union Township Trustees and the Village of Hebron. Trustees and village representatives have argued for six months about who's entitled to what share of the Hebron Fire Department's EMS billing revenue.

Monday night, trustees agreed to ask the village for 60 percent of all EMS billing revenue generated in Union Township, including that generated in Hebron and Buckeye Lake - both municipalities are within Union Township - and through mutual aid runs. Trustees also agreed to pay a 10 percent surcharge to cover Hebron's administrative costs associated with Union Township's request.

Trustees believe they are entitled to 60 percent of all EMS billing revenue because the township pays the Hebron Fire Department roughly $584,000 per year for emergency service, which is 60 percent of the department's operating budget.

Village officials have proposed giving Union Township 100 percent of the EMS billing revenue generated in Union Township's unincorporated areas, but not in Hebron, Buckeye Lake, or on mutual aid runs.

"It's not really that much different in dollars," said Trustee President John Slater, but the trustees believe the 60 percent figure is more fair.

The Granville Township Fire Department, which serves the portion of Union Township north of the CSX railway, does not charge for EMS transports.

Trustee Jack Justice said he's still opposed to the 10 percent surcharge, which he believes is excessive, but it's not a dealbreaker.

"The only thing we can do is agree with it," said Slater. He hopes Hebron will review that charge in a year or two and pos- sibly "ratchet it down." Hebron Village Council still must review and decide whether to approve the trustees' latest proposal.

EMS billing programs are designed to collect reimbursement from private insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid. Hebron and township residents living in the Hebron contract area should not receive bills if they aren't covered by insurance. Others will be billed, such as Buckeye Lake Village residents, if they do not have insurance coverage. However, unpaid accounts will not be turned over for collection.

Slater said any discussions with other municipalities for emergency services - previously they discussed possible contracts with the Buckeye Lake and Heath fire departments - are on hold for now.

In other township news:

• Slater said residents in the Hartman Farms development and others are complaining that neighbors are not maintaining their yards. One lawn in particular may have not been mowed this year, he said. Slater wondered if the township could implement a lawn-cutting ordinance, similar to what some municipalities impose.

Justice said he didn't think the township could do much of anything about it unless "noxious weeds," which the Ohio State University Extension Office defines as "problematic" plant species in aggressive competition with cultivated plants, are toxic to livestock, degrade natural habitat, or are a threat to public health, safety or navigation, are growing. Justice said there are homes on Refugee and Blacks roads with high lawns.

Slater said it's a shame when people don't keep their lawns under control.

"Tell them to check their deed," said Justice. Some properties have maintenance requirements.

The township has options, said Heidi Fought, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Township Association. A township can deal with individual nuisances, like noxious weeds or junk vehicles, but it can't pass a resolution specifically regulating something like grass height like a municipality can, she said. However, a township is able to pass a comprehensive property maintenance code. It's a lot more work than a specific resolution, but it's possible, said Fought. The maintenance code would apply equally to all township residents. "Others have done it," she said. "It depends on what the community wants."

• Slater said no one's sure yet who's responsible for repairing the CSX Railroad crossing at Thornwood Drive, where the steep asphalt near the railroad track is deteriorating.

Slater said the county engineer is "going to bat" for the township, but no one has any experience with the current railway owner. "It's in limbo," said Slater.

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