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Fire district still possibility for Hebron, township

HEBRON – Union Township and Hebron Village officials may be closer to signing a 2010 fire contract and they’re still discussing the possibility of a fire district, although there was no official action taken during a March 25 special work session at the Hebron Administration Building.

The township and village continue to wrangle over how much of the fire department’s budget the township is obligated to pay and how to distribute the revenue EMS billing generates. Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason said creating a fire district would render most of the negotiations, which take place year after year, unnecessary.

“When there’s no contract it puts us all at a standstill,” said Hebron Fire Chief Randy Weekly.

Union Township Trustee President John Slater said he wanted to see correlation between how much of the department’s operating expenses the township pays – currently 60 percent – and how much of the EMS billing revenue the township receives. If the township pays 60 percent of the expenses, he said, it should receive 60 percent of the EMS billing revenue, which could offset the township’s expenses. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict how much income EMS billing will generate annually. Mason suggested the village could bill the township for its 60 percent quarterly, which would make it easier to make corrections for the EMS billing revenue.

“We’d prefer 50 percent,” said Slater. He said the deal used to be for the township to receive 50 percent of the EMS billing revenue, which has changed over the years. He reiterated that the township’s share of the revenue should match its contribution. “That makes sense to me,” said Slater.

“It seems like givin’ ya, givin’ ya, givin’ ya,” said Mason. EMS runs into the township can be more expensive than those in the village. “All runs are not created equal,” he said.

Weekly said 85 percent of the township runs come out of Hebron.

But, of those runs, the township still pays 60 percent, said Slater.

Trustee Rick Black suggested the township pay 50 percent of the operational expenses and keep all the EMS revenue generated exclusively from township runs.

Mason said he wasn’t willing to lose 10 percent from the township when the township recently agreed to pay the Granville Township Fire Department roughly three times what it used to pay it to cover the areas of Union Township north of the CSX railway. Granville Township doesn’t collect EMS billing revenue.

Trustee Jesse Ours said he’d rather see Hebron Fire Department go into northern Union Township and collect the EMS billing revenue.

Hebron council member Annelle Porter said it’s difficult for the department to operate when there’s no contract signed.

Slater said the township couldn’t take all the blame for the delays.

Mason expressed frustration because the village and township have these discussions every year. “We continually spin our wheels,” he said. “We’re trying to treat one fire department like it’s two, but it’s still one fire department.” He said the whole EMS billing revenue debate could “go out the door” if a fire district were formed.

Slater said his major concern about a fire district is it may cause an increase in millage for township residents. Mason thought all areas of a district may be able to maintain existing millage levels.

“I think we’re working toward an agreement,” said Slater Wednesday. “It’s not like we’re not going to. We’ve always reached one before.” He said he was concerned, however, that Mason may not be interested in seeing a reduction in the township’s 60 percent operational contribution. He said the trustees will “take it all in” and continue to work out differences with Hebron.

All parties agreed to think about what was discussed and meet againat 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, at the Hebron Municipal Complex.

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