2009-10-17 / News

24/7 staffing at Fairfield Beach looks promising

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT – The meetings took nearly five hours on Tuesday, but Walnut Township Trustees and the Village of Millersport now agree that the Fairfield Beach fire substation should be staffed around the clock.

Trustees met first and prospects for progress appeared slim when President Ralph Zollinger announced he had given the Millersport fire contract proposal on Monday to the county prosecutor’s office to review. He also said he opposed the 65 percent allocation and the four year term.

But thanks to persistent prodding from residents Deane Maughmer, Ron Craig, trustee candidate Terry Horn and others, what first appeared to be another effort to delay discussion, turned into a productive session.

All three trustees objected to the proposed four year term. Trustee Wally Gabriel suggested a three year term to get it out of the “limelight of the election.” Sonny Dupler and Zollinger agreed.

“It ought to be in an election year,” Maughmer said. “This is the most important decision you make.”

Dupler also said he objected to the 5¢ per page copy fee proposed by Millersport to encourage electronic information transfers. He wanted to keep the 15th of the month as the due date for Millersport’s reports. Millersport asked to push it back to the 20th.

Trustees want to review an itemized budget before making a decision on Millersport’s request for a 65 percent allocation.

“I want an itemized budget,” Dupler demanded. “Not a bunch of accounting terms we don’t understand.” Millersport Fire Chief Bill Yates promised to deliver a budget based on 24/7 staffing at both stations to trustees on Wednesday.

The four times a year disagreement over the amount of the trustees’ payment to Millersport appears to be resolved. Millersport believes each of the four payments should consist of 56.5 percent (their current allocation) of the fire/EMS levies income received by the township since the previous payment. Trustees, primarily at Dupler’s insistence, have been withholding some of their receipts in an attempt to even out the four payments over the contract year. Dupler acknowledged that his motivation is to capture the interest on the withheld revenue for the township.

Millersport’s contract proposal cleared up any possible misunderstanding in the future by specifying that the payment is to be their percentage allocation of revenues received by the township.

“I’ll concede on this,” Dupler finally said. “It’s not worth it at one percent (interest).”

Trustees also agreed with Craig’s belief that Millerport’s fire equipment should include Walnut Township’s name. Yates quickly agreed and said ‘Walnut Township’ was removed from the equipment after a township attorney raised it as a possible liability issue.

Trustees agreed 3-0 to put the township name back on the equipment, pending a liability check by the county prosecutor’s office.

Gabriel’s offer, following Maughmer’s suggestion, to present the trustees’ position to village council members Tuesday night was accepted.

Tuesday night, he told village council that trustees want the wording for 24/7 staffing at Fairfield Beach to keep the crew there unless they are on a run. “24/7 at The Beach is a given,” he added.

Millersport quickly agreed to drop the copy charge and accepted the three year term. Mayor’s assistant Vince Popo said moving the report deadline back to the 20th would allow him to provide the most current information since it would always include the bills authorized for payment by council at their second Tuesday of the month meeting.

Gabriel held open the possibility that the contract could be completed before the election, but noted it would require at least one special meeting.

Council members agreed that ‘Walnut Township’ should be put back on fire equipment. “It ought to be there,” Council President Dave Levacy said.

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