Sugarcreek Township trustees sign Fire Contract with Village of Sugarcreek
By Beverly Keller
Local Edition Editor
Several residents and those with interests in the future of fire protection in Sugarcreek Township were in attendance at the monthly meeting of Sugarcreek Township Trustees on Tuesday night.
Titus Slabaugh, trustee, moved the agenda be modified to allow the group to hear from those in attendance. He noted that he was sure he knew their purpose before opening up the floor for comments.
A member of the Barrs Mill Church of God leadership team asked what happens after January 1 if there is a fire at the church which is located in Sugarcreek township.
Slabaugh stated that nothing will change regarding the treatment of a fire after January 1, 2015.
He went on to explain that an ordinance to be passed by Village of Sugarcreek Council to accept new fire contracts had already received two readings before a contract in the amount of $49,000 per year for the next three years was presented to Sugarcreek Township. Slabaugh went on to explain that a counter offer was given to the Village of Sugarcreek in the amount of $41,000 with an additional $1,000 for each run over 41 in the course of the year.
As of the last meeting of Sugarcreek Township Trustees on Tuesday, December 2, no official word from the Village of Sugarcreek, regarding that counteroffer and its status with members of council and administration had been received. Slabaugh shared that the day after the meeting, he was contacted by Mayor Clayton Weller of the Village of Sugarcreek who indicated the offer for fire protection was rejected by council.
“This is the first meeting since our official notification,” Slabaugh stated. He noted that Sugarcreek Township feels they have been signaled out with unfair increases in contract prices for the past several years. He indicated that the past two contracts have been negotiated at a lesser rate than what the Village originally proposed.
The group gave an informal straw poll result that indicated all three would vote in favor of signing the $49,000 contract good for the next three years at that rate.
It was noted that the current Fire and EMS levy seen as a property tax by residents of Sugarcreek Township generates approximately $74,800. The newly updated levy passed by voters in November will increase that collection based on current tax appraisals in the coming year.
Following those statements, a motion was made to sign the contract by Dave Shutt. The motion gained a second from Slabaugh. The motion passed.
The approval of the contract means that there will be no change in fire coverage or billing for that coverage for residents of Sugarcreek Township. Had the contract not been signed before December 31, a measure that would allow the Village of Sugarcreek to bill individuals or businesses in the event of a fire call would come into play.
Dr. Kevin Miller, the Village of Sugarcreek’s Fire Chief entered the meeting and asked to address the group. Miller noted that he took the position as a way to serve the community. He is a part of the Village of Sugarcreek Fire Department and is a Village of Sugarcreek employee in that respect. However, he also wants to make sure that the needs of Sugarcreek Township, are also being met.
He noted that the biggest need of the department is a tanker truck. “I want to be able to run a fire call in the township and have adequate water to knock a fire down on board,” Miller said.
He also stated, that after speaking with the fire chiefs in Baltic and Dundee, a mutual agreement was reached. “We have very light coverage in the mornings,” Miller stated. To help resolve that issue, Miller has requested that both Dundee and Baltic be paged with Sugarcreek using Mutual Aid for calls that come in from 5 a.m. until noon, daily. The need for more firefighters exists as more and more trained personnel work jobs away from Sugarcreek or are not allowed to leave work to run a call.
Miller indicated he will be happy to provide the group with quarterly updates on calls run. He also has all information for the past several years broken town by township and type of call if Sugarcreek Township Trustees wish to review the information.