‘Progress’ on fire contract?
HEBRON – Union Township Trustee President John Slater said fire contract negotiations between the township and the Village of Hebron are “working out,” but Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason questions how much progress is being made.
“We’re making strides in the right direction,” said Slater Monday night as he gave the trustees a brief update on negotiations. However, “it’s still in conversation,” he said.
Currently, the township pays 60 percent of the fire department’s operating expenses. Trustees proposed to pay 55 percent of the department’s operations. Trustee Rick Black said previously that paying 60 percent forces the township to dip into its general fund to pay the Granville Township Fire Department the $80,000 per year it charges to cover the portion of the township north of the CSX railroad.
There’s also disagreement over EMS billing revenue. Trustees want 60 percent of all EMS billing revenue based on the premise that they pay 60 percent of the department’s operational expenses.
The township proposed taking over EMS billing in the unincorporated areas which would give trustees 100 percent of that revenue – the same 100 percent they mutually agreed to for 2009 and Hebron offered for this year. Hebron initially wanted both parties to set aside all EMS billing revenue for capital improvements, but has dropped that issue.
Now the only difference between Hebron’s offer of 100 percent and the township’s do-itourselves 100 percent is Hebron’s administrative fee less any extra costs the township incurs doing its own billing. Hebron proposed to cut its administrative fee from 6.5 percent to 3 percent in their counteroffer. Slater would like to see the administration fee dropped completely, if possible. “It’s hard for me to fathom there’s that much cost,” he said Tuesday.
Slater would still like to see correlation between the 60 percent the township pays for operational expenses and the 60 percent of EMS billing revenue he would like for the township to receive, but he said that realistically, the administration fee is the final sticking point for the contract. “I would say yes,” he said.
“We’re not going to give them 60 percent; we’re just not going to do that,” said Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason Tuesday. He said he and Slater “talked a couple times,” but haven’t had serious discussion recently. “We’re certainly willing to sit down and talk with them,” said Mason. “It’s crazy to continue this (stalemate).” He said negotiations, which have churned since the first of the year, have not broken down and he hopes to have more meetings with the trustees next week. Slater said no time to speak with Hebron is scheduled, mainly because of scheduling conflicts.
In other township news:
• Slater said the township is three weeks into its exclusive residential trash hauling contract with Big O Refuse and there have only been a few glitches. He said one resident said her trash wasn’t picked up for at least two weeks, but Big-O made a special trip to resolve the situation. He said someone on Refugee Road only recently received a container and another person called to complain that the township, in creating the district, took away her freedom of choice.
Trustee Jesse Ours said a Lees Road resident complained that he’s only home Friday through Sunday, and having a Thursday pick-up is terribly inconvenient. Ours said Big-O used to pick up the resident’s trash on Friday before the district was created.
• Slater said the prosecutor’s office is helping the township create bid specifications to repave sections of several roads, including Grande Pointe, Balbriggan, Sandstone Court, Clark Road, Morrison Street, Keller Road, and streets within the Old Farm and Bending Oak subdivisions.
• Black mentioned the Thornwood Drive railroad crossing “gets worse by the week.” Trustees have discussed resurfacing the notoriously steep and tall crossing with the CSX Railway, which owns the track, but there’s been little progress. Slater mentioned he’d heard about a safety activists group called the Angels on Track Foundation that exerts its influence to convince railroad companies and municipalities to maintain railroad crossings and equip all with warning lights. Slater said there’s always the possibility of contacting the foundation if the CSX doesn’t address the interchange. “A group like this would get their attention,” he said.