Agreement reached on fire contract
MILLERSPORT – Hundreds of Walnut Township residents leaned forward in their seats, straining to hear whether Walnut Township Trustee Ralph Zollinger would second Trustee Terry Horn’s motion. Several shouted, “Come on, Ralph, do what’s right.”
A loud cheer went up when Horn announced that Zollinger said “yes.” A few moments later Trustee President Sonny Dupler made it unanimous when he voted “yes” on the motion.
The suspense came nearly t wo hou rs into a special trustees’s meeting Tuesday night in the Millersport Elementary School auditorium. Horn had moved that the township enter into contract negotiations with the assistance of an arbitrator to negotiate a four-year contract for EMS/fire protection services with the Village of Millersport.
Two amendments to that motion were also approved unanimously after Zollinger seconded each one. The first made the arbitrator’s decision binding on both parties if they are unable to reach an agreement on their own. It also provides that the expense of the arbitrator will be shared by the parties to the agreement. Another amendment addressed a concern raised by resident Julie Shirk. She wanted to address the possibility that an arbitrator might not reach a decision by the contract’s December 31, 2010, expiration date. Trustees again unanimously agreed to extend the current Millersport contact until they either reach agreement with the village or the arbitrator makes the binding decision.
Horn, hitting three for three at the time, went to 3-2 on his next motion. He asked that trustees appoint him to be the point person with township fire marshal Billy Phillips to work with the departments, villages and arbitrator.
Dupler objected. “I think all council members and trustees should be involved,” he said. After assuring Dupler and ZXollinger that he will keep them totally informed during the entire process, Zollinger again seconded his motion and it was approved unanimously.
It was quite a turnaround from just one week ago. A letter drafted by Dupler terminating Millersport’s contract by Dec.14 and setting up a township fire department was just a second from Zollinger from being approved.
Dupler based his proposal on a possible $40,000 to $65,000 tax collection shortfall this year. His concern didn’t stand up to scrutiny given the township’s likely fire fund carryover into 2011.