Village tries to plug fire deficit
MILLERSPORT – Village council members are leaving no stone unturned as they seek to plug a $72,000 hole in the fire department budget.
The deficit arose last month after Walnut Township Trustees accepted the village’s proposal to increase on-station staffing at the Fairfield Beach Fire Station from 12/7 to 24/7, while rejecting the village’s request for 65 percent of the township’s fire levy income to operate two of the three fire stations in the township. Trustees, in what was considered ‘a take it or leave it’ contract, cut the village’s request by nearly eight percent to 60 percent, up from 56.5 percent last year. That increase is expected to bring in an additional $33,000 a year, but the increased staffing at Fairfield Beach will cost an extra $105,000.
During a discussion Tuesday night about the village’s fire and casualty insurance renewal, council member Shane Wise asked how much the village could save by increasing deductibles from $1,000 to $2,500. He was told about $350, prompting council president Dave Levacy to question whether the savings is worth the added risk. Council members unanimously agreed to renew the existing policy and will consider changing the deductibles once they have a specific quote on the savings.
Fire Chief Bill Yates outlined the steps he is taking to address the shortfall. First, he is taking total
A control of purchase orders. “I have to have my thumb on this budget,” he said. The $15,000 budgeted for incentive payments to volunteers to go on runs has been eliminated. Yates hopes to reinstate some payments for volunteers if any money is left at the end of the year. The training/education budget has been cut from $25,000 to $10,000.
He also told council members that the Fairfield Beach and Millersport medics will continue to back each other up on any runs that could require advanced life support such as strokes, heart attacks, trauma from accidents and non-breathers. The two-person medic crews can’t adequately provide that level of care, Yates explained. “You can always cancel (the other medic) if you don’t need them,” he added.
Yates also told council members that he will be using the station car regularly since he is now essentially on duty 24 hours a day. The vehicle was purchased by the fire association, with the village paying for fuel and maintenance.
In other business Tuesday night, village officials told mayor’s assistant Vince Popo to rebid the village waste collection contract. The current contract with Big O expires in March. “I think we should invite Walnut Township Trustees to join us (in the bid) so all township residents can enjoy lower prices,” council member Chuck Mesko offered. Council members agreed and Mayor Dean Severance will make the offer to Trustee Terry Horn.
Severance administered the oath of office to a new auxiliary police officer. David Pollock has nine years of law enforcement experience. He is an investigator with the Ohio Investigative Unit.
Police Captain John Shirk briefly demonstrated the three Tough Book laptop computers that were purchased with a grant. The computers, which move easily from cruisers to the office, will include the village’s codified ordinances, Ohio’s criminal law, the department’s policies and procedures manual and all booking forms. Officers will also use them to access the law enforcement database from their cruisers. A separate Homeland Security grant purchased two radios that will allow the department to use the state-wide emergency radio network.
Shirk is also applying for a federal COPS grant that would pay 100 percent of the cost for three full-time officers for three years. The grant recently became attractive, he said, when the requirement that the grantee keeps the officers after three years was dropped. If the application is funded, one officer would be assigned to the schools.
The waterline to Buckeye Lake is 85 percent complete, Board of Public Affairs member Chris Tennant reported to council. He expects the last portion along Ohio 79 will be complete by the middle of next week. All the lines have been pressure tested except the Ohio 79 segment.
Tennant said bids for the first phase of waste water treatment improvements are expected to go out February 8 and be opened March 3. The first phase will focus on cutting down on the infiltration of water into the system which threatens to exceed treatment capacity following some rain storms. Water and sewer customers will soon have an Internet bill payment option. Customers will pay $3.95 per transaction for the convenience.
Council members heard the first reading of a resolution to adjust water and sewer rates. Details are available at the village office.Anyone with questions about the adjustments is invited to the February council meeting – 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the village offices. It will not affect the Buckeye Lake bulk sale rate.