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Agreement near on fire/EMS contract with Hebron

HEBRON – Signing on the dotted line is all that may be left to do.

Monday night, Union Township Trustee President John Slater said the township is close to reaching an agreement with the Village of Hebron to have Hebron Fire Department provide most of the township with fire protection and emergency medical services. The contract covers the unincorporated portion of the township south of the CSX rail line that bisects the township.

The sticking point on the renewal for 2009 is how to use the nearly $200,000 generated by EMS billing since July 2007. Hebron, which hasn’t spent the money, wants to use most of it for capital improvements for the fire department. Trustees want what they consider the township’s share, to go toward meeting its 60 percent share of the department’s operating expenses.

The trustees raised the issue months ago and Hebron Village Council agreed to extend the 2008 contract two months into 2009 to provide more time to resolve the issue.

Slater said he had a "worthwhile" meeting with Hebron officials Saturday and came up with the basics of an agreement. He said Hebron agreed to allow the township access to 60 percent of the EMS billing income retroactive to July 2007, however trustees must agree to use it only in relation to the Hebron Fire Department, and not toward Granville Township or Buckeye Lake fire department expenses, with whom the township also contracts for services. "That would get us over the hump," said Slater.

Trustee Jack Justice acknowledged the township and village are nearing an agreement, but added that the EMS billing revenue in question is generated in township territory, using township equipment. He said restricting its use to only the Hebron Fire Department seemed limiting. "It’s our money," said Justice.

Wednesday, Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason said he hopes the village and township will have a contract signed during the next Hebron Village Council meeting March 11. He said he and Slater agreed to forgive the contract being signed after the two-month extension, as long as it’s taken care of quickly. "We agreed that was okay," he said. Mason said if the trustees have problems with the contract after reading it, he’s prepared to "sit down" and continue negotiations, but he sincerely hopes to sign the contract, which will cost the township approximately $584,000.

Slater said Wednesday that Med 3000, the company that administers the EMS billing program for the Hebron Fire Department, presented a breakdown of revenue collected from EMS runs specifically within the township as the trustees requested some time ago. He said this was also a positive step forward and he, like Mason, hopes to sign a contract during the next Hebron Village Council meeting. Slater said the proposed agreement isn’t exactly what the trustees wanted, but "the end result is the same," he said.

In other township news:

• Slater said the trustees are weighing their options for filling the road supervisor’s position, which will be open when current road supervisor Ron Braden retires August 2010. "He’s going to be sorely missed," said Slater. He said the trustees aren’t sure yet if they’ll fill Braden’s position internally or open it up to outside applicants. Some of the decision will depend upon the current road crew’s desires. If Braden’s position is filled internally, a road crew position will open. Slater reiterated that the trustees haven’t reached a decision.

• Slate said Monday night that the inside of the Union Township Hall could use a complete cleaning and maybe a fresh coat or two of paint. "It’s getting dreary," he said.

• Justice said he believes a previous Union Township story in The Beacon made it sound as though the trustees didn’t know how to address speed limit issues within the township. He said the trustees do know how to address them, but the process takes a long time.

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