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Trustees, Hebron to begin fire contract talks

UNION TOWNSHIP – Union Township Trustees are ready begin discussions to renew the township’s contract with the Hebron Fire Department for fire protection and emergency medical services for the portion south of the the township south of the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad. Granville Township Fire Department covers the area north of the railroad.

The township’s two-year contract with the Village of Hebon expires at the end of this year, and trustees are scheduled to meet with Hebron Council’s Safety Committee on Aug. 29.

According to the existing contract, Union Township pays 60 percent of the Hebron department’s expenses, while the township receives 100 percent of the net revenue from EMS billing from patient transports in the township’s unincorporated areas. The township uses some of that revenue to offset its payments to Hebron.

Negotiations for the current contract lasted more than a year as Hebron wanted to reserve EMS billing revenue for capital improvement projects including constructing a satellite fire station in the township to improve response times. That was unacceptable to trustees who wanted to use the revenue to offset their share of operating expenses so they wouldn’t have to tap the township’s general fund to meet their obligations to Hebron.

All parties involved hope this year’s discussions won’t become next year’s discussions.

“It should be short, sweet, and simple,” said Hebron Fire Chief Randy Weekly, but time will tell.

“My hope is we’ve learned from the discussions of the past,” said Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason. “We’re excited to sit down for discussions.” The mayor prefers to call upcoming meetings with the trustees “discussions, as opposed to “negotiations.” He said he appreciates that Union Township was willing to enter into a multi-year contract and hopes they will agree to do the same this time. He also hopes discussions will be conducted in a smooth and timely manner.

The length of time for discusthe sions is “totally unforeseeable at this point,” said Union Township Trustee President John Slater. “It’ll all boil down to what we can afford.”

Slater said there may be some adjustment of numbers compared to the current contract, but realistically there is no major change in services requested.

In other trustee news,

• Trustee Rick Black said township still struggles with building a salt storage bin. “It used to be a simple process; it’s not anymore,” he said. An unseasonably warm winter left the township with about 400 tons of the 800 tons of road salt, which it expected to use. Trustees figured the township needed a new storage bin at estimated price of $15,000 to $20,000.

Unfortunately, Slater said trustees discovered the state requires many unanticipated expenses – an elaborate design, etc.–to build a larger salt bin, and the price tag spiraled upward. “It’s going to require some things we do not have,” he said. “It’s not a laboratory; it’s a storage bin.” Slater said the trustees may consider building a smaller bin than they originally planned to reduce expenses.

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