2010-04-10 / News

Fire contract negotiations to continue

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Union Township Trustees said they still prefer to get as much as they give as they consider final fire contract negotiations with the Village of Hebron.

After plenty of discussion during their regular Monday night meeting, trustees agreed to stick with the proposal to continue pay for 60 percent of the department’s operational costs, but the township also wants to receive 60 percent of the EMS billing revenue the department generates. EMS billing revenue would offset the township’s costs to the village.

Tustees met with Hebron officials at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 8, at the Hebron Municipal Complex to continue discussing the contract. Monday night’s discussion followed a contract negotiation March 25.

Trustee Rick Black said he suggested the township pay 50 percent of operational costs and collect all of the EMS revenue township runs generate. “(Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason) did not take kindly to it,” said Black, referring to the March 25 meeting.

“There’s this plain resistance against any reduction (to the township’s contribution to operational expenses),” said Trustee President John Slater.

Black said he felt like Hebron officials were resistant to contract changes. “I felt like I was told, ‘It’s this way,’” he said.

Slater said he thought paying 60 percent of operational expenses would be acceptable if the township receives 60 percent of EMS billing revenue. Last year the township agreed to receive 50 percent of the EMS billing revenue generated from July 2007, when billing began, through December 2008. Then the township would receive 100 percent of EMS billing revenue generated from the township area during 2009, and the revenue would be used only in that service area.

Hebron Fire Chief Randy Weekly, present at Monday night’s meeting, said the township has really paid less than 60 percent of the department’s operational costs for the last few years.

Slater disagreed. “It’s not like we’re slackin’ here,” he said. Other times the township has paid more than 60 percent, so it averages.

Black said he could live with the 60 percent operational contribution for 60 percent of the EMS billing revenue if that’s what happens. He said he only suggested the 50 percent contribution for 100 percent of township – generated EMS billing revenue to gauge a reaction – although Black’s not opposed to the idea, personally.

In other township news:

• Black said he’d like to hire an independent consultant if fire district discussions continue. Mason strongly suggested forming a district during the March 25 meeting.

Weekly questioned the need for a consultant because so many people associated with the department have studied a district several times and have all sorts of information and experience.

“Rick has a comfort level with (a consultant),” said Slater Tuesday. “I don’t have a real preference either way.” Slater his only real objection to a district is should it increase the millage for township residents. If the millage in all areas can stay the same rates they are today, he’d consider a fire district.

• Trustees may collectively bid for trash removal services for residents living in the unincorporated areas. The Villages of Buckeye Lake and Hebron have had trash collection contracts for years. Slater said he understood from the Licking County prosecutor’s office that establishing a formal trash district is no longer necessary for townships, but he needs to confirm. Under a trash district, only one trash hauler would serve the entire township, which would provide lower prices for residents while removing some heavy trucks from township roads. Currently, at least four residential trash haulers service Union Township.

Slater said if the trash district happens, the township wants to restrict collection hours to between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on US 40 and Beaver Run Road so trash trucks don’t interfere with school buses or block rush hour traffic. He said the township would begin taking bids from haulers as soon as they decide to form a district, if they decide to do so. Slater said that if a district is formed, it probably wouldn’t go into effect until July, because he wants to be sure residents who switch to a new provider won’t have an overlap in billing from their previous provider. “It’s up to the service provider to make sure there’s no overlap in billing,” said Slater.

The trustees may discuss the trash district during their next meeting, April 19, 7 p.m., at the Union Township Office in Hebron.

• The trustees signed a contract for website designer Crystal Davis to prepare a township website for $900. The basic format of the website is already posted at www.uniontownship.net, but she said there’s still plenty of information, photos, and graphics to add. Davis said the website will display calendars, events, forms (such as permits and applications), a photo gallery, and it’s a cheaper and more ecologically friendly method to distribute a township newsletter than mailing it. The site will also provide links to the Village of Hebron, Buckeye Lake, Lakewood schools, and many other places, as well as provide public email access to the trustees.

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