2013-10-12 / News

Trustees cut Hebron EMS/Fire contract again

By Scott Rawdon

UNION TOWNSHIP – Nothing’s really changed economically for Union Township since last year, so there’s really no way the township can offer Hebron more money for a 2014 fire contract than it could for this year’s contract, said Union Township Trustee president Rick Black Monday night.

“We have no additional money for the next year,” he said. Black said if voters approve a 1.5 mill additional fire levy Nov. 5, the trustees may be willing to reopen the contract. “Other than that, the contract’s the same as the last one,” he said.

Trustees offered just $420,000 to the Village of Hebron for fire and EMS services in 2013, after paying roughly $625,000 in 2012. The township’s typical 60 percent share of operating expenses was estimated at $645,000 in 2013. The trustees plan to offer Hebron $420,000 for a 2014 contract.

The township’s two fire levies totaling 3.3 mills bring in about $505,631 per year with $80,000 earmarked for the township’s contract with the Granville Township Fire Department, which services the portion of the township north of the railroad.

Trustees blamed the former fiscal officer for leading them to believe the township had more money than it did. However, the township’s most recent audit by the State Auditor’s Office did not absolve them of blame for the township’s financial difficulties. The audit included 10 findings and stated “proper Board monitoring was not performed...”

Hebron officials reluctantly approved the reduced contract when Mayor Clifford Mason broke a 3-3 tie vote.

“That’s certainly interesting,” said Mason regarding the township’s 2014 contract offer, adding that he hadn’t had a chance to review the trustees’ proposal. Mason said he needs to have a conversation with trustees and determine how serious they are about reopening the contract should the levy pass. “We’ll see what council has to say,” he said.

Mason said village fiscal officer Deborah Morgan has “better identified expenses” within the village budget, helping the village to work with Union Township’s reduced 2013 fire department contract. However, he said $420,000 for Hebron Fire Department service “may or may not work” for 2014. That decision is council’s.

In other township news:

• Black said he met with Granville officials regarding the possibility of redistricting 13 properties currently in Granville Village and Union Township into Granville Village and Granville Township. “Some of these people are not at all happy,” he said.

Granville Township Trustee Paul Jenks said the consideration is part of the Licking County Budget Commission’s desire for conformity of taxation throughout the county. Years ago, Granville Village annexed Union Township properties, but the properties remained in Union Township, meaning that they are not taxed the same as Granville Village properties that are within Granville Township’s borders.

Jenks was clear, however, that the Granville Township Trustees are not involved in the decision whether to bring those properties into Granville Township; that’s up to the village and county. “We want to do what’s best for everyone involved,” he said, however, “The trustees don’t have a vote. We don’t get to participate.”

Granville Township Fiscal Officer Jerry Miller said Granville Village property owners currently residing in Union Township could expect a slightly less than eight percent tax increase if they are redistricted into Granville Township. But, that total does not include Union Township’s 1.5 mills fire levy on the November ballot. Miller said Granville Township has no levies on the November ballot so if Union Township’s levy is approved, Granville Village residents living in Union Township would pay roughly the same in taxes as their Granville Township counterparts.

“The village services for the 13 parcels in question would be affected by changing the township boundaries,” said Granville Village Administrator Steve Stilwell. “Their township services, property tax, and elected township officials would change.” He said the Granville Village Council would have an opportunity Oct. 16 to pass an ordinance to petition the Licking County Commissioners to make the change. “I don’t know the county commissioners’ schedule,” said Stilwell.

• Union Township Trustees unanimously approved purchase of a CX55Bv Case compact excavator with a cab, rubber tracks, a blade, several buckets, and a hydraulic thumb for $71,259.54. They also approved purchase of a trailer for the excavator at $11,250.

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