Fire Protection Rift Between Delta & York Township Grows Wider

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Regarding fire and rescue protection, the question the residents of the Village of Delta and York Township may soon be asking is not “Where’s the fire?” but, more to the point, “Who is going to put the fire out?” At the last Delta village council meeting on Monday, October 3, the Council voted 5-1 in favor of sending a letter informing the trustees of York Township of the Village’s intent to terminate the current Fire Service Agreement when it expires on December 31, 2017.

The reason for the letter, drafted by Delta Law Director Kevin Heban, stems from the inability of the Village and the Township to negotiate an agreement of the percentage of financial responsibilities each entity should assume for fire and rescue services. In its third paragraph the letter says, “With no apparent resolution addressing the concerns raised by the Village, the village administrator has been directed to evaluate viable fire protection options for its residents.”

With the Village being contractually obligated to give the Township a six-month notice before withdrawing, the letter will serve as that notification.

“The last paragraph just leaves open the possibility of further negotiations between the Village and the Township and that the Village would be open to a proposal that the Township may want to make in the future,” stated Mr. Heban.

“My concern, as your administrator, (is) we have repeatedly tried to initiate to pursue some viable solution for this going forward, very unsuccessfully,” said Administrator Brad Peebles. “I think this council needs to take some action to begin to look at its options going forward. We can’t afford to be caught at the eleventh hour trying to figure out what we’re going to do for fire service.”

Councilman Art Thomas put forth a motion to send the letter and it was quickly seconded by Councilman Richard Maurer. A great deal of discussion followed the motion with Councilwoman Lynn Frank and Councilman Anthony Dawson recommending it be tabled until the next meeting to give everyone a chance to consider all the data. The rest of the Council, however, felt that enough time had passed.

“But we know this issue has gone on for how many months if not years,” said Mr. Thomas. “The percentage of what the Delta citizens pay towards fire protection is out of whack and we’ve known it for how long?”

Mr. Dawson suggested the Council delay sending the letter until after the public hearing regarding the Village’s request to separate from York Township which will be heard in front of the Fulton County Commissioners on Thursday, October 13.

“We’ve been talking about this for almost a year now with no resolution,” countered Mr. Peebles. “To me this validates to the Commissioners that we are focused on trying to get this resolved. I am definitely afraid that we are going to posture ourselves to get backed into a corner so that we have no option but to say ‘Whatever you (Township) say, we’ll do.’ That’s what I’m going to work diligently to avoid.”

The vote was finally taken and passed with only Mr. Dawson dissenting.

If no agreement can be negotiated it places both the Village and the Township in a precarious position. While York Township provides fire and rescue service to Delta, the Village leases the fire station to the Township. No agreement would leave them both scrambling for a solution.

In other news, the Council unanimously passed the first reading of Ordinance #16-26 which places a six-month moratorium on the issuance of permits within the Village which would facilitate the cultivation, processing or sale of medical marijuana. The ordinance is very similar to what many Ohio municipalities are enacting to allow themselves time to adequately review all applicable codes to formulate a response to the state law passed last month allowing the use of medical marijuana.

Also passed on its third and final reading was a resolution authorizing the Administrator to enter an agreement with the Ohio Depart of Transportation for the inspection of bridges for the next three years through 2019.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 17 at 7:00 PM.

Bill O’Connell may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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