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Costs mount for new salt bin

UNION TOWNSHIP – Building a salt bin continues to present surprises to Union Township Trustees.

“We have to have some civil engineering,” said Trustee Rick Black Nov. 5. He said the Licking County Prosecutor’s office confirmed the township must spend roughly $4,000 for an engineering study of the salt bin’s site before it can send the project to bid. He said JBA Architects, the firm designing the bin, would contract through Jobes Henderson and Associates to complete the study.

“We don’t need it,” insisted Trustee Jesse Ours.

“We can’t bid without it,” said Black. “This is what the prosecutor told us.” He said if trustees didn’t approve going ahead with the study Monday night, “The process will be behind that much further.”

“But it’s already been done for this building,” said Ours, referring to the new Union Township Complex on Beaver Run Road.

“Not for the (salt) bin,” said Black.

“It doesn’t change the fact that we have to do this,” said Trustee President John Slater.

“It’s like throwing money down the drain,” said Ours.

While Black and Slater agreed the study was expensive and inconvenient, they voted to move forward with it since they believe they don’t have a choice. Ours voted “no.”

“This is part of what we have to do in the big process,” said Black Nov. 7. He believes township trustees in general are surprised at the extra steps involved these days with new construction projects. “We have to move some dirt, so we don’t have a lot of choice.”

Black said previously that he expects a new salt bin to cost $70,000 or more. He said that trustees first discussed building a new salt bin at the Union Township Complex months ago, but what seemed like a simple construction project has met with a startling number of roadblocks.

Slater said previously one of the reasons trustees decided to build a new salt bin is because so much salt remains from last year’s unusually mild winter. He said the township’s existing salt bin is full and a farmer is storing the rest until a new bin is ready.

Black said there is not timeline on construction, other than building the bin as soon as possible.

In other township news:

• Black said as negotiations with the Hebron Fire Department for a contract continue, Hebron requested that the township agree to share in the cost of major equipment repair whenever it occurs.

“Haven’t we already agreed to that?” said Slater.

Township Administrator Paula Greene said the township technically can’t agree to an open-ended request to repair equipment.

Black said the Hebron department does a good job maintaining its equipment and looking after the equipment the township owns.

“If a repair is needed approach the township and ask,” said Slater.

Black reiterated Nov. 7 that he believes the township isn’t permitted to give Hebron an open-ended agreement, as opposed to helping on an as needed basis. “I don’t know why Hebron wasn’t aware of that,” he said.

A two-year contract with the Hebron Fire Department for fire and EMS service to the unincorporated portions of the township south of the Columbus & Ohio River railroad expires at the end of this year. Currently, Union Township pays 60 percent of the Hebron department’s operating expenses or about $622,000 for 2012, while the township receives 100 percent of the net revenue from EMS billing from patient transports in the contract area.

Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason and Council’s Safety Committee have now met with Black, Green and Fiscal Officer Jessica Slater three times.

The Nov. 8 meeting got off to a rocky start when Union Township brought Granville Township Fire Chief Jeff Hussey to the meeting without advance notice.

“I think it is a cheap shot and I don’t like it,” Mason said.

Black and Green continued to claim that the township can only pay $420,000 for next year’s contract. Sixty percent of Hebron’s draft budget for 2013 would be $645,000. Black and Green refuse to tap the township’s general fund.

“We are not going out of the fire fund,” Black said. “ We can but we shouldn’t.”

Mason responded that Hebron uses its general fund to supplement funding for the fire department.

“You have created this animal,” Black retorted. “It has a diet none of us can afford not.”

After considerable discussion about what role the township wants with the department versus Black’s admonition that “its your (Hebron’s) department, run it,” Green agreed to complete her line-by-line review of department expenses within a week.

The next meeting date was left open. Mason emphasized that he wants something in writing that addresses what happens on Jan. 1. if a contract hasn’t been executed by then.

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