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Union Township renews fire contract with Granville Township

UNION TOWNSHIP – Union Township Trustees unanimously agreed Monday night to extend the township’s contract for fire and EMS services with the Granville Township Fire Department for two years. The Granville Township department covers the area of the Union Township north of the railroad tracks.

Trustee Rick Black said there is no change in the contract price – Granville Township fire charges Union Township $80,000 per year for its services – mainly because trustees also approved Granville Township fire’s plan to charge for EMS transports. “They’re keeping the EMS receipts,” he said.

Granville Township Fire Department Chief Jeff Hussey said previously that billing for township residents will be “soft billing,” or a collection of insurance receipts only. There’s no balance billing or co-pay, and no charges for uninsured residents. Plus there’s a provision for a waiver in case of hardship. For nonresidents, there will be collection of insurance proceeds. The department will bill for balance or co-pay (this equates to a user fee for non-residents), but there will be no collections. Unpaid bills will be written off.

Hussey expects EMS billing to generate $187,000 per year gross revenue from the department’s entire service area. Net revenue would be about $150,000 per year after paying for the billing services.

“It’s going to be almost invisible to residents,” said Hussey Tuesday. He said previously that Ohio law now requires that all net EMS billing revenue goes to the service provider, which in this case is the Granville Township Fire Department. That means the months of squabbling between trustees and Hebron officials as to how EMS billing revenue collected by the Hebron Fire Department would be distributed won’t happen this time, or ever again. Hebron Fire Department covers the areas of Union Township south of the railroad tracks.

In other township news,

• Trustees agreed to cap their contribution to a Thornwood Drive paving project at $76,000. “I think they have us tied up with too many miles of road,” said Trustee Jesse Ours. The Thornwood Drive Paving Project, to be completed summer 2013, is a joint venture between Heath, Union Township, Newark, and Licking County.

According to a memo from Heath Division of Building and Zoning Chief John Groff to Union Township Administrator Paula Greene, the current cost estimate for the project is approximately $487,000. Federal funding will provide $294,000 and Heath is seeking $193,000 from the Ohio Public Works Commission. OPWC grant applications require all participating entities to sign a cooperative agreement. Should the construction bid exceed the amount of federal and OPWC funding, or change orders drive the cost above the funded amount, the participating entities will have to make up the difference. Groff’s memo sets the responsibility percentages at: Heath – 58 percent, Union Township – 36 percent, Newark – five percent, and Licking County – one percent.

Trustee are concerned because the actual amounts are open-ended. Trustees believe that placing a cap of $76,000 would stop the township from falling into a spiral of expenses if project costs exceed estimates.

• Ours wondered who was mowing the grass around the old Baptist church at Beaver Run and Canyon roads. “Maybe we should pat him on the back,” he said. Ours said Licking Cemetery Association Chair Henry Porter is very concerned about the area surrounding the church and adjoining graveyard and he wondered if the township shouldn’t claim responsibility for it. “I can see (Porter’s) reasoning,” said Ours.

Trustees are still unclear about who has responsibility for the old church, which is currently boarded, and its surrounding grounds.

Trustees, who have no township use for the old church, don’t want to take responsibility for it, and would rather see the church go to someone whom it would benefit.

Greene said previously that the American Baptist Churches of Ohio requested its deed back for the property and the township obliged. Other than that, there’s little else the township can do about the situation. She added that the American Baptist Churches of Ohio would need to go through various procedures to abandon the property to the township.

Robert Cassady, regional minister for the American Baptist Churches of Ohio said, “I am not sure of the status of the old church building and property as it relates to the Union Township. I do not know if the township has control of the property. (ABC/Ohio) does not have any responsibility towards the property at this point.” As to who owns the property, he said, “My understanding would be the members of Licking Baptist Church, specifically the trustees at this time.”

Porter was unavailable for comment.

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