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Buckeye Lake rejects contract options for fire/EMS

BUCKEYE LAKE – Thanks, but no thanks, was the public safety committee’s recommendation Monday night as village officials discuss the possibility of contracting outside of the village for fire protection and a proposed regional fire district.

Council member Clay Carroll, who chairs the public safety committee, said committee members discussed the fire department’s future at length and agreed to recommend that the village should not enter into any contractual commitments with any outside entities at this time and the village administration and council should continue to monitor and work with the Buckeye Lake Fire Department to maintain and improve services whenever possible.

Council agreed.

“One-hundred percent of council was in support,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker. “That says something.”

Council members also unanimously agreed to place a five-mill, five year renewal levy for the fire department on the November ballot. Last November, voters rejected the same measure by a 509-412 vote.

“I think we’ve made a lot of improvements (to the fire department) and continue to do so,” said Carroll. “I’m pleased and impressed with the progress of our department.”

Council President Charlene Hayden said she, Baker, Carroll, council member Arletta Ruton, and Buckeye Lake Fire Department Captain Dave Ruton attended a meeting at the Heath Municipal Building May 30 where representatives from Hebron, Buckeye Lake, Heath, and Union, Licking, and Granville townships listened to a presentation by Zashin & Rich Co. LPA attorney Jonathan Downes on a fire district’s basic structure. Heath Mayor Mark Johns has suggested that the aforementioned entities should consider forming a fire district.

“The main message I took away from the meeting is that it is best to have a feasibility study before a district is established, that it takes several years to accomplish the establishment of a district, and that a district generally provides good service at a high cost,” said Hayden.

Baker said Wednesday that “nothing is off the table for the future. Always keep options open.” But, for the time being the village is going to concentrate on passing the five-mills levy in November. Whether the village ever joins a fire district or contracts with Hebron or another entity for fire and EMS services remains to be seen. However, for right now, the village is not.

Monday night Buckeye Lake Fire Department member Debbie Harding said she’s was impressed with Carroll’s presentation during a meeting May 23 addressing the fire department’s finances and future. And, Harding said the “juvenile” behavior of protesters outside the meeting “disgusted” her.

Former council member Brenda Hileman said protesters were practicing the freedom of speech and had every right to protest.

In other village news:

• Hayden asked council members Monday night to approve an ordinance and several resolutions that evening as emergencies and waive the three-reading rule, whereby ordinances and resolutions are read publicly three times in separate meetings before the receive a vote.

“How did we get into a situation where we have to make it an emergency,” said council member Barry Herron, who voted to adopt the meaures, but opposed waiving the three reading rule.

Hayden said Wednesday that Ordinance 2013-15 (to amend a previous permanent appropriations ordinance) had to be adopted immediately to meet the financial obligations of the Village. She said resolutions 2013-07 and 2013-08 had to be adopted immediately to make sure everything is in line to place the five-mill, five-year fire department levy on the November ballot. “If the three readings are done, the last reading date is July 8,” said Hayden. “That is cutting it very close especially if you have a meeting where council does not have a quorum.”

She said Resolution 2013-09 was necessary to transfer money for a washer extractor into the proper account. “This issue needed to be corrected immediately in order to satisfy the auditor,” she said.

“With regard to Barry’s usual objection to passing legislation in an emergency, I would have to say that all council members receive the council agenda and almost always see the legislation before the actual council meeting,” said Hayden. She said it would seem appropriate to her to have questions on emergency legislation answered before the meeting in order to understand why the three reading rule is being waived. “I don’t recall that we have ever passed legislation in an emergency except when necessary to satisfy some requirement for outside sources or some deadline requirement,” said Hayden.

• Director of Development Mike Cassidy said as of next Monday the eastbound exit ramp from I-70 to Ohio 79 will be closed for 14 days for construction. However, he said the contractor assured him that the ramp would open for 4th of July activities.

• Director of Public Works Vaughn Klingler said the village received a $75,000 Ohio EPA grant for storm water drainage improvements. Klingler said he’d like people to photograph areas of standing water in the village following rainstorms as proof of drainage issues when the village applies for grants to help with the problem. He asked that the photos be dated.

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