2009-09-19 / Schools

Millersport proposes 24/7 coverage for Fairfield Beach

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - "Fairfield Beach deserves 24/7 coverage like everyone else," Millersport Council member Charles Mesko said at Tuesday night's council meeting.

His comment came just before council members unanimously approved a contract to submit to Walnut Township Trustees that will have the Millersport Fire Department staff the Fairfield Beach substation around the clock.

Mayor's assistant Vince Popo told council members that he started with the trustees' contract "word for word." He then met with Fire Chief Bill Yates to propose some changes for council's consideration. The changes are:

• Millersport must have two two-person crews instead of one two-person crew available at all times for emergency medical services.

• The Fairfield Beach substation must staffed by at least one EMT-Paramedic and one EMTBasic 24 hours per day, seven days per week instead of 12 hours per day, seven days per week.

• Documents requested by the trustees will now be delivered in electronic form rather than on paper. If paper copies are desired, the cost will be 5¢ per page.

• Reports will be due by the 20th of the month instead of the current 15th of the month.

• Millersport is seeking 65 percent of the net designated fire levy income after the expenses of the Fire Ombudsman are deducted. That is the same percentage the department received in 2007 after voters approved a new three mill permanent levy to fund 24/7 coverage. Trustees have since cut Millersport's percentage each year. It is 56.5 percent for 2009.

• It makes it clear that the township remits 65 percent of the collected fire levy income to date to the village four times a year. The payment dates of by April 24, July 24, Sept. 25 and Dec. 25 are unchanged. Trustees had interpreted the payments clause as four equal quarterly payments per year. The township gets its two largest tax payments in April and July, which meant trustees were withholding funds received to even out payments to the village.

• The contract returns to its original term of four years. At trustees' insistence, it has been a one-year contract since 2007.

"There should be no mistakening the intent," Popo told council members. "There will be 24 hour a day coverage at Fairfield Beach."

"That's what they deserve at Fairfield Beach," council President Pro Tem Dave Levacy added.

Yates said the additional staffing at Fairfield Beach will cost $105,120. "It's the right thing to do," he said.

Returning to the village's original percentage, won't cover the increased staffing expenses. Income from the township's four EMS/fire levies totalling six mills was certified at $955,000 this year. Fiscal officer Pauline Ety said August 11 that next year's certification drops to $948,000.

Yates is concerned that collections could fall further and based his projections on $900,000 after the now $6,000 salary for the fire ombudsman is paid. The return to the department's original percentage increases Millersport's revenue by $76,500, meaning the department will have to come up with $28,620 for the additional staffing out of its current budget.

Popo will deliver the signed contract to trustees on Friday with the monthly fire department reports. Village officials hope trustees will consider the contract at their 7 p.m. meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

In other business Tuesday night, council members agreed with street supervisor Gilbert Arnold's suggestion that the village delay its annual street resurfacing program to next spring so it coincides with the Lancaster Street resurfacing project. That project is partially funded with an Ohio Public Works Commission grant. Arnold believes the village will likely get a better price if both projects are done at once.

Arnold also reminded residents that the street department garage uses a waste oil furnace for heat. He needs more donations to fill the tank for the winter. Used oil can be dropped off at the street department garage behind the car wash during regular business hours. If the gate is locked, Arnold said oil can be left by the gate, provided it is in secure containers.

Popo reported that pool revenue is down about $5,000 this summer which is attributed to a delayed opening for a leak repair and a particularly cool July. About $6,000 from the village's general fund was needed for pool operations and the leak repair. Popo is currently powerwashing the pool to remove loose paint and prepare it for repainting. "I don't think the paint has ever been taken up," he reported.

Popo has spoken with Jeff Watson who has agreed to push back his Summer Kick-off to Saturday, May 15. Plans are to open the pool the same day and offer a free swim day to encourage season ticket sales.

Levacy said donations were critical to the pool's continued operation this summer. The following donors contributed a minimum of $500 each to help keep the pool open: Alexander's Landing, Buckeye Lake Area Civic Association, Buckeye Lake Marina, GCC Engineers, Kenny's Collision, Time Warner Cable and Doctors Paul and Anna Whetstone.

Levacy added that Eastland Vocational students are available to do some construction work at the pool. Popo said the pool building needs a new roof and that a gazebo would be an attractive addition. Levacy will try to get at least the roof replaced.

It's been months since council members approved a parking ban on Lancaster Street between Mill and Main Streets. Lancaster Street narrows in that area and parked vehicles can force school buses, fire trucks and other large vehicles across the center line. Some neighbors questioned the ban and signs announcing the ban haven't been installed. Levacy wants to work with John Clark of the Ohio Department of Transportation to explore any options. Moving the centerline might allow two to three parking spaces on the west side. Since the village hasn't taken the necessary steps to enforce the resolution. Village Solicitor Steve Carlino recommended rescinding the parking ban until a final determination is made. Council members unanimously followed his advice.

After some discussion about the date, council members supported the revival of the elementary school Halloween parade. This time the parade will run from the elementary school to downtown. It will be a walking parade with the high school band and children in costume. The parade will run from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29 with treat or trick hours set from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Residents are encouraged to come downtown for trick or treat activities.

Council members also approved a request from Popo, a school board member, that would allow high school officials to block Laker Drive with cones for about ten minutes as buses are loading students in the afternoon. School officials will be asked to discuss the implementation with the police department.

Council members formally awarded a $717,965 contract to Law General to extend a waterline to Buckeye Lake. The low bid came in about $300,000 below the estimate. A couple more easements must be obtained before construction can start.

Construction will likely begin next month and officials hope to get as far as the Ohio 360/Ohio 79 intersection before weather gets too bad. The line would then be finished as soon as the ground thaws next year.

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