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Hebron offers to extend contract while discussions continue

UNION TOWNSHIP – Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason assured Union Township Trustees Monday night that township residents who live south of the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad tracks would have emergency services even if trustees and the village do not reach agreement on a new fire contract by the end of the year.

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.

Voters approved an additional 1.5 mill fire levy by a 699-591 vote Nov. 5, according to official election results, and trustees agreed to reopen contract negotiations with Hebron in the wake of the additional revenue. Earlier, trustees had offered Hebron $420,000 for 2014.

Trustees quickly approved a five-year contract with Granville Township on Nov. 18. Granville was under contract for $80,000 in 2014, but will now receive $150,000 to $175,000 a year after trustees agreed to give each department all the fire levy revenue from their respective service areas. Granville covers the portion of the township north of the railroad track.

Trustee-elect Charles Prince objected when Trustee President Rick Black revealed the new funding plan at a Nov. 14 meeting with both fire departments. Prince believes levy revenue should be allocated on the basis of need, not where it was generated. He pointed out that Hebron makes nearly seven times as many runs into the township as Granville does. On a per run basis, Granville will receive about 64 percent more per run than Hebron.

The quick contract with Granville forces Hebron to accept the new funding allocation. Hebron Village Council members have some concerns about the township’s proposed contract, and authorized Mason to make the 60- day extension offer to alleviate any concerns about fire/EMS services when the contract expires Dec. 31.

“There are still questions about the payments,” said Mason, who would like the township to provide four equal payments per year of the agreed upon total. “That’s the big (concern),” he said, adding that the village would provide trustees with Hebron Fire Department employees’ training records twice per year. “It’s a matter of being transparent,” said Mason.

Township fiscal officer Jessica Slater said it’s tough for the township to commit to specific dates and amounts for payments because the township relies on whatever the county collects and sends to them.

“We don’t want to set a date, then the money doesn’t come from the county,” said Black. “That could happen.”

Black said Wednesday trustees’ big concern is payment on a specific date. “We probably could” send equal payments, he said, adding that setting a specific payment date is worrisome because there are factors that could delay receiving county revenue. “It’s all well and good if we get the money from the treasurer,” said Black. Black said the township receives county revenue twice a year and it’s far simpler to agree to send payments immediately after the revenue is received.

Black said the trustees and village would discuss a contract further Dec. 12, and maybe an agreement would be reached then. “Hopefully, to finish it up,” he said.

Trustee John Slater said a 60-day extension is a good “last resort” if nothing’s agreed upon Dec. 12.

In other township news:

• Trustees are considering whether to replace a worn mower or rebuild it. “The existing mower needs massive repairs,” said Black. He said the arm from the tractor supporting the mower deck is extremely worn, as is the deck itself. “The mower deck is beat up,” he said. “It’s done a lot of mowing.” Rebuilding the arm and deck would be less expensive in the short term, but Black said trustees need to discuss whether it’s more prudent to replace them, and not invest in worn equipment.

• Black said the township removed some trees along Beaver Run Road near Thornwood Drive, and one of the remaining stumps could be dangerous to motorists, should a vehicle slide off the road and hit the huge stump. “It would be bad,” he said. Trustees are evaluating the least costly way to remove it.

• Black said trustees would meet Dec. 31 (in addition to the regular Dec. 16 meeting) for a year-end wrap up, but will likely meet Jan. 13, instead of Jan. 6, 2014. “That may change,” he said.

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