The Archbold Village Council met in regular session on Monday, March 20, 2017.
The continuation of discussion regarding the Fire Agreement Proposal between Archbold Village Council and German Township Trustees Bruce Lauber, Randy Ruffer, and Ken Leupp, occupied the majority of the meeting. The discussion lasted for a little over an hour.
Kevin Morton began by expressing council felt it was important to continue the dialogue on the topic and hopefully continue the progress that was made from the last meeting. He stated this discussion has been going on for 10 months and he believes it is time to put this behind them and move on with the project.
Trustee Lauber expressed the German Township Trustees didn’t feel the amount of money expected from them was fair to German Township and its residents after crunching the numbers. He does appreciate the communications between the village and the township and hopes they will continue.
Mr. Morton emphasized the proposal generated by former Fire Chief Andy Brodbeck had been developed using the same formulas utilized for the EMS levy for the county, and it seemed logical to do so since those same formulas are used throughout Fulton County and also the State of Ohio. Morton added that through this process the council discovered that currently people outside the village are not paying anything towards fire services, only fire equipment. Morton then asked Mr. Lauber if he wanted people inside the village to pay more than those outside the village. Mr. Lauber replied, “No.”
Mr. Lauber questioned what he perceived as a $25,000 discrepancy in salaries for the supervisor and wondered why that wasn’t taken from the EMS budget since that is what he supervised? Ms. Dettling clarified that $25,000 difference from 2016 to 2017 was not for the supervisor position, but for wages, wage increases, possible overtime due to a new hourly rate as the village had to go from paying salaries to an hourly rate due to a change in state legislation. Mr. Lauber acknowledged his understanding of the explanation.
Mr. Ruffer expressed his concern that the formula used for revenue purposes in the latest proposal considers property values which in his area is farmland. He acknowledged he is protecting the farmers. He believed that there is going to be a lot more urgency for fires in town as compared to rural fires. He added that different fire equipment would be brought to a fire within the village, especially to a factory, as opposed to what would be brought out to rural areas. He also said the value of land causes differences in the rate of tax and there are a lot of issues that concern him. Specifically his concern is that based on the proposal those outside the village will be paying the same rate as those within. He was also concerned about the distance the fire department had to travel for a rural fire as opposed to those within the village limits.
Ed Leininger emphasized the term urgency and that the fire department considers all fires urgent and will do whatever they can to contain the fires as soon as possible in all instances.
Larry Baus, a visitor in the audience, asked to speak. He expressed concern that two township trustees who were representing him because his lives in the township, but within the village limits as well, believe that those living in the village should pay more for fire protection than those outside the village. He expressed that the township has been getting the fire protection cheaper for years and found it hard to believe that now the trustees were complaining about being asked to pay an equal amount. “I want to know why my township trustees are telling me I’m not as important as people in the country. Because I have to pay more. Why do I have to pay more? Can you explain that to me?” Both Lauber and Ruffer denied that was what they were saying.
Mayor Fryman interjected that they are not paying for fire protection at all at the present time, just for the fire apparatus. He stressed that currently the people in the village are paying for all operational costs of the fire services.
Mr. Ruffer questioned how the initial proposal from October 25th, in which the share to German Township was $51,000, is now at $142,000?
Mr. Morton explained it was shortly after that meeting that council discovered people outside the village were paying nothing for fire services.
Mr. Brodbeck reminded that this proposal is a budget, and the figures he provided in the proposal are simply projections and not exact costs.
Mr. Leupp expressed concern that the current highest cost per $100,000 property value for fire services in the county is half as much as what is in the proposal and expected of German Township residents. Mayor Fryman shared that the same process is going to happen in other places in the county as Mr. Brodbeck is being contacted by other village mayors because they are realizing they are not charging townships for fire protection either.
There was some controversy on whether the German Township Trustees had been told by other area fire departments that it would cost them a substantially greater amount if they were to provide fire service to the township and if some of them would even offer the service. Mayor Fryman indicated that an unnamed fire chief informed him that his department would not provide fire services to German Township. The trustees denied anyone declining them primary fire services and that they have spoken to five different fire departments.
Mr. Lauber stated it was hard for him to fathom how the budget has gone from $227,000 to $412,000. Mr. Leininger shared it was hard for everyone to understand, but that those are the facts of the matter.
Ms. Dettling explained the large rise is due to the fact that in prior years the budgets of the two entities were separated. Now that they are being put together in the proposal that is why the budget is so much larger. She apologized for her frustration, but stated this process of agreeing on fire protection has been going on for a year. Mr. Brodbeck concurred that the increase is because the budget is now all from the Village of Archbold, and German Township would have no budget as they are combined.
Mr. Eicher expressed this issue has a lot of people in Archbold talking and that they are angry because the village residents are paying more than the township. He directed his comments to the trustees and stated, “It was time the three of you understand that the figures aren’t lying. I said this a month ago. These figures are true facts and it needs to come to rest. We need to get this done or else there will be some upset people! I don’t want the people in the township that live in the country to not get the same fire protection as the people in town! That is not fair to them. It is not fair for the people of Archbold to pay what you don’t want to pay!” He also expressed concern that if the township does get protection from other area fire departments that the response times will increase. He emphasized that is not a condemnation of the other fire departments, but simply a fact based on transit time. He also said weather would be another factor to consider that may negatively affect response time from the other departments. He stated that they need to use common sense.
Ms. Dettling introduced a worksheet that provided a 20 year forecast of expenses. It broke down the expenses to both the village and township. She emphasized if the proposed budgets could be maintained that in her worksheet German Township would only be responsible for 27% of the budget, well below the fair share of 36% that council hopes for. She indicated this was an attempt to project what all the expenses would be for the next 20 years, however she cautioned it was quite a conservative estimate. She stressed that these funds come from the general fund, not income tax, for the operational expenses of the fire department. Income tax can only be used for capital needs. This also reflected German Township handing their equipment over to the Village of Archbold. Ms. Dettling emphasized that even though council is not comfortable projecting out 20 years that she felt it was important for them and the trustees to see what 20 years from now may potentially look like.
Mr. Morton expressed this reflects using formulas that are currently being utilized thus eliminating the worry of numbers being increased arbitrarily, and that a budget review will take place each year. However, this worksheet has not been approved by council or the Finance Committee as it does not reflect paying the fair share of the two entities.
Mr. Lauber thanked Ms. Dettling for preparing the forecast. She expressed that this is happening all over the county, and she is just trying to get this issue resolved. Her hope is that the worksheet will lead to providing an outcome they all can live with.
Mr. Lauber asked council how they felt about the worksheet. Mayor Fryman quickly responded, “We pushed back on it. It doesn’t hit the 35%. We are all talking about paying our fair share, but this doesn’t add up to 35%.
Mr. Morton stated this was only presented to the Police and Fire Committee in their meeting early this evening. Mr. Betz shared this was the first he had seen the worksheet.
Mr. Brodbeck was asked by Mr. Morton to share his statements in regard to his informing the members of the fire department to avoid expressing their feelings regarding the debate over the fire services agreement proposal. Mr. Brodbeck remarked, “It’s pretty simple. When each person joins the fire department they join for one sole reason, to take care of the residents of Fulton County, to serve them, to protect life and property. They don’t care two hoots about where the funding came from or who has ownership. They didn’t ask those questions. They just want to serve. They have done that very, very well and continue to do it very, very well as long as they are allowed the opportunity. But by them serving all residents of German Township, incorporated and unincorporated. Yes, we discussed it and I instructed them as a department to say nothing because we are basically in the middle of this. All they got on for was to serve the residents and to take a side would show preference to one side or the other and that is not where we want to be. We want to continue to serve. If they could speak loudly about anything right now what they would say is get this over with. We are here for life and property. It’s life and property. It doesn’t matter what fire it is, what kind of fire it is, or whose fire it is. It’s life and property. And that is what they want to do. I can’t speak for them, but I certainly know that has been their desire from the beginning. It would make no sense to go one side or the other and voice their opinion. That is why they were instructed in that way.”
Mr. Morton added, “To take this a step further we would expect as a council having firefighters as our employees that there are people on both sides of this. If they live out in the rural area they may have the opinion they don’t want to pay more. We understand that opinion could exist. If we try to facilitate conversations amongst those people that cause them to bang heads we are doing a disservice to our employees as well in that regard. You have the constituents that they protect in the county, but you also have the camaraderie and the best volunteerism in Fulton County bar none. It’s not even close! Andy’s advice helped to keep the banging of heads out of the picture. It is not a healthy conversation to have. However, they are welcome to share their opinions with you individually. I’ve told many people I’m an elected official. My door is always open. If you have an opinion on this you want to share I’m glad to hear it.”
Kenny Cowell added, “We are blessed to have the best fire department in the county!”
Mr. Lauber expressed what he thought council was saying is that they didn’t approve of the worksheet Ms. Dettling developed, but were allowing her to tweak it. Mr. Morton said they are asking her to come back with a worksheet that reflects the same numbers that Mr. Brodbeck had depicting the 36% share by the residents of German Township. This would reflect the residents of the village paying the same as the people outside the village using the same formulas as the EMS contract and the equipment levies. “We have Andy’s proposal and Donna’s information. We keep trying to come up with talking points to keep this progressing. We want to know what you are thinking (the trustees) and keep the negotiating moving forward.” Mr. Lauber added, “Absolutely, you want to keep the negotiations going, but in a reasonable amount of time.” Mr. Morton added that this has been going on now for 10 months.
Mr. Leupp interjected that they have met, and come away feeling good, then the good feeling doesn’t last for more than a week because something changes. Mr. Morton stated that he feels they have reached the appropriate numbers and are using the formulas they should have been using all along. Ones used by the county in other areas. He added that the fact the township had not been paying for fire services had been overlooked, had come to light in the past months, and was a glaring oversight.
The council and trustees agreed to meet again at the next council meeting on April 3rd. Ms. Dettling and Mr. Lauber agreed to meet together to go over the worksheet. Mr. Fryman emphasized ultimately they are coming back to the 36% share by German Township.
Joe Short, former German Township Trustee and Fulton County Commissioner asked to be recognized. He stated there is a financial disparity between the village, who he referred to as “Big Brother”, and the township. He emphasized he was not trying to take sides, but listened to both entities. He questioned the motive behind why the village needed to own the fire equipment. Mr. Short feels the village is trying to shove the townships face in the dirt. He questioned what was wrong with the township operating and maintaining the fire equipment. Mayor Fryman interjected that the equipment got used as leverage in a discussion. “We decided we were taking Safety Services, a non-political department outside of a political discussion.” Mr. Short responded, “You may have vendettas against one, two, or three individuals as far as a leveraging tool. I have spoken to Chief Brodbeck and Chief Davis. They don’t care who is operating the equipment or paying wages. They are called to serve life and property. If it is the three individuals and it’s a leverage point we need to get rid of the ego and the arrogance that we got going on right now. Change the circle!”
Mayor Fryman responded to the accusations, “Joe, I’d like to see all the people who live in the village right now be represented by these three considering we’re not paying the fair share. I’d like to be represented as a German Township resident!”
Mr. Morton asked Mr. Short what his take was on the EMS and equipment levies. Short replied, “The EMS levy in my opinion is a different kind of animal than what a fire levy is.” Mr. Morton asked why he felt that way. Mr. Short didn’t really give a clear answer. He did restate that there is a huge disparity in finances between the village and German Township. Mr. Morton stated that Mr. Short had thrown out some pretty inflammatory comments when he described the village council as arrogant. Mr. Short replied, “Absolutely! Let me go back to the arrogance and egotism. We were talking at the beginning of the conversation about ‘Your fire’ and ‘My fire’ and people are more important. No they are not. They are all important. You call 911 and the fire department is going to be there!” Mr. Cowell quickly shot back, “Joe who brought that up? Wait a minute, I take offense to that too! Randy (Ruffer) sat there and said a rural fire is not as critical as a fire in town. Mr. Ruffer interrupted, “That is not what I said!” Cowell continued, “That is exactly what you said. You seem to forget what you said.” Ruffer responded once again, “You misunderstood what I said. I’m sorry that is not what I meant.”
Mr. Short interjected, “I don’t mean to be directing this specifically to the Village of Archbold. It is the township trustees too. You guys are all elected to do what is in the best interest of the people.”
Mr. Morton entered the discussion again, “So Joe, your opinion is the same as Randy’s that people outside the village should pay less.” “No, no”, replied Short. “What I am trying to say is what we had before is. Why doesn’t the township continue operating and maintaining the equipment, and yes there is a disparity of wages. You can see that is evident. So why don’t you have the township trustees or the people outside the village help offset the costs?”
Mayor Fryman shared, “We’ll get past the equipment. It’s the dollar amount of the fire contract that were are trying to negotiate Joe! It’s the fire service that we want fair share paid by all residents. That’s what we are asking for!”
Mr. Short then asked the question of how many full and part time fire department people were needed on an average fire. He stated to take that number and multiply it then you would have the actual cost of fighting a fire.
Mayor Fryman shot back, “What is an average fire? Tell me what an average fire is? If you can define an average fire to Andy, I don’t think Andy Brodbeck can define and average fire to me. What is average?”
Short asked, “Is it 8 part-time people? Is it 10? I don’t have that number?”
Fryman addressed Brodbeck with the question, “Normally you take 40 don’t you Andy if you can get them?”
Short stated, “All I’m trying to do is offer another opportunity to change the circle. If you guys are unwilling to do that, that is okay. Just trying to help.”
Morton addressed Short. “What we don’t need is you in here grandstanding using the words you just used to describe the situation. We had enough of that last week! It’s not productive Joe! You should know that!”
Short replied, “I get it, but that is what’s going on. I can’t help it. It’s a fact!”
Mayor Fryman then responded, “Alright, I think we are done. We’ll get back together on the first meeting in April.”
Mr. Leininger asked Fryman for clarification. “Jeff, when you say full circle you are meaning that if we are not in agreement with 35-65 (percent of budget expected from German Township and Village of Archbold respectively) it doesn’t matter what dollar amount we come up with. It’s useless if we can’t agree upon that. If we can agree upon that, then we can make projections and get some idea of what this is going to look like for the next 9-10 years.” Mayor Fryman agreed that was correct.
Fryman restated that Village Council and the German Township Trustees would get together again on April 3rd. “Hopefully we will have something from our end and you guys can propose something that sets something off or you guys get an idea. That’s fine. I appreciate the conversation. Heated at times, but hopefully we will move past that.”
On a much lighter and more celebratory note, the other highlight of the meeting was the recognition of Archbold High School wrestlers Noah Mattin and Gavin Grime. The two were acknowledged for their participation and placement at the OHSAA State Wrestling Tournament held on March 9-11, in Columbus. Mattin, a senior, finished in second place in the 138 pound weight class. Grime, a junior, finished in 8th place in the 132 pound division. Mayor Fryman commended the two for their outstanding achievements not only for the State Tournament, but throughout their careers as each of them eclipsed the 100 win mark this season as well.
Additional items included:
The group approved the following items presented by Mayor Jeff Fryman:
• The minutes of the March 6, 2017, meeting with no questions.
• Bills and Payroll in the amount of $605,162.33
The Council Members, Mayor Fryman, and Village Administrator Donna Dettling entered into Executive Session at 7:06 pm to discuss a potential property purchase and returned at 7:18 with no action taken.
Village Administrator Donna Dettling presented the following resolutions which Council voted to suspend the reading rules and approve:
• #2017-20 Accepting the Proposal from Integrity Municipal Systems LLC for a Lime Paste Type Slaker System and Volumetric Screw Feeder Contract 4-2017 and Declaring an Emergency. It was noted that this was the only qualifying bid received. The bid was for $117,500. This was less than the Village Engineer’s previously estimated cost for the system of $120,000.
• #2017-21 – Authorizing the Village Administrator and the Finance Director to Advertise for Bids for Lafayette Street Sidewalk & Storm Sewer Improvement Project Contract 2-2017 and Declaring an Emergency. Estimated cost for the project is $58,500.
Council was provided information on the following Committee or Commission Meetings:
a. Police & Fire Committee Minutes 3-6-2017. It was noted that the German Township has had an ISO Rating Improvement. This will allow the residents nd business to get up to a 5% decrease in costs from their insurance agency according to Ms. Dettling. This will be in effect beginning June 1, 2017. Kevin Morton cautioned this is probably an up to 5% decrease, and the amount will depend on several different factors. Those affected may need to contact their agents to receive the reductions. This also will more than likely not come into effect for carriers until their policy renewal date according to Mr. Morton.
The following reports were provided to Council:
a. Investment Report February 2017 – There is a new system call the Insured Cash Sweep. This is being utilized instead of certificates of deposit. According to Ms. Dettling, the village’s cash balance is run through this process each night and a balance is provided. This provides a high interest rate and rate of return that the bank has provided to the village.
b. Police Department-Calls for Service February 2017
c. Engineering Contract Status February 2017
In Correspondence Items:
a. Arbor Day Foundation -2016 Tree City Award. It was noted by Ms. Dettling that the village has received this award 35 times. A celebration will be held sometime in April by the Arbor Day Foundation where the award will be distributed.
b. Maumee Valley Planning-Transportation Planning Meeting on 3-28-17. This informational meeting to gain public involvement will be held at the Archbold Library from 3-6 pm.
c. Ohio Gas Energy Service-Transportation Credit February 2017.
d. Copy of March 10, 2017 State Route 66 General Comment Letter. It was noted that about 60 of these letters have been sent to residents, with additional, more specific letters still to be mailed pending ODOT review.
e. Roadway Grant(629) Payment Request of $197,808.47. This grant will be used towards payment of the Lugbill, Myers and West Barre Road street and side walk improvements.
Council adjourned at 8:33 pm. Archbold Village Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be Monday, April 3, 2017, at 7 pm. The Fulton County Commissioners will attend this meeting. A public hearing will also be held.