Fire contract talks to start over
UNION TOWNSHIP- Fire contract talks between Union Township and the Village of Hebron are back to square one, but in a good way, said Union Township Trustee President Rick Black. “We’re going to have a whole new proposal,” he said.
Voters approved Union Township’s additional 1.5 mill fire levy by a 691- 585 vote in unofficial results from Tuesday’s election. Black said he contacted Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason Wednesday morning to schedule a time to reopen negotiations now that the township will have more income from the levy. He plans to meet with Mason early next week.
Monday night, trustees discussed several proposed changes from Hebron to an initial contract that mirrored the existing contract, however that’s all “out the window,” said Black, now that the levy passed. He said the 2014 contract trustees proposed was created assuming there would be no additional funding from the levy.
Trustees are paying Hebron $420,000 for the current 2013 contract, after paying roughly $625,000 in 2012. The township’s typical 60 percent share of operating expenses was estimated at $645,000 for 2013. Before voters approved the additional levy, trustees offered the same amount for the 2014 contract because the township had no additional income from the previous year. But, trustees had said they would be willing to reopen negotiations if the levy were approved, and Black said he immediately contacted Mason Wednesday morning.
The new 1.5 mill fire levy will raise about $237,000 a year.
Mason said he appreciates the trustees’ willingness to reopen contract talks and “looks forward” to discussing the contract next week.
Monday night, Union Township Administrator Paula Greene said she strongly disagreed with Hebron’s assertion that the township has been late on contract payments. Hebron village solicitor Wes Untied has suggested adding a 10 percent late charge penalty to the contract for 2014.
“We were not late on anything in the last two years,” said Greene. She said according to the contract, payments are due April 1, July 1, Oct. 1, and Jan. 1. Greene said in 2012, checks were issued April 1, June 30, Sept. 11, and Nov. 30. This year, checks have been issued April 9, June 17, and Sept. 16.
Greene said the township was late on payments under the former fiscal officer, but has been prompt since Jessica Slater became fiscal officer. Greene said the township received taxes from the county too late to meet the April 1 deadline this year, but Slater arranged payment ahead of time so Hebron wasn’t forced to wait until after the April 15 trustees meeting to receive a check.