Elected officials representing five different Fulton County entities met in the Delta Village Council Chambers on Tuesday, February 29 to discuss a myriad of topics expected to deeply impact thousands of county residents.
Dan Miller, Village of Delta Mayor, opened by welcoming all officials and expressing his optimism for the county to start “looking toward the future tonight”.
On the joint fire district, Swan Creek Township Trustee Rick Kazmierczak told the panel that with costs in the departments on the rise each year and volunteerism on the decline, something different is needed than the current system to provide for all entities involved.
“The bottom is line is that [the district] will hopefully improve service to be even better than it is right now,” he said.
Kazmierczak also expressed hope that a feasibility study conducted by the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association will provide a blueprint of where the district needs to go. The study would cost about $18,000.
Delta Village Administrator Brad Peebles reported that the Delta Village Council is in favor of allocating $11, 250 from a county-funded Community Development Block Grant to the village to be used to offset the cost of the study instead of the originally intended downtown revitalization purposes, which have gained little traction.
The reallocation of the county’s grant would first need to be approved by the county commissioners. Both commissioners Jeff Rupp and Jon Rupp were in attendance at the meeting.
“I think it could quite possibly be a solution,” Jeff Rupp said.
Kazmierczak suggested that the remaining costs of the study be split among each of the participating entities (Amboy, Pike, Royalton, Swancreek, and York townships and the villages of Delta, Lyons, Metamora, and Swanton).
Although each entity was previously asked to pass resolutions of support, Kazmierczak said the proposed $750 charge footed by each body would be worth the only other solution of waiting until October to apply for a new grant. Plus, he called approaching the county for funding without any benefactor planning to pay “a little embarrassing”.
“I don’t think any of us want to wait for another year to see what’s going on. We believe the project is important enough, allocating the funding would best benefit the community,” Kazmierczak said.
The operations of the proposed district is still largely undecided. The panel suggested that the district could simply be a political figure with just funding provided by the townships and villages with no departments conjoining. In another scenario, Fire and EMS services could even be separated.
In turning the conversation to the ongoing annexation talks between Delta and the surrounding townships, Peebles presented the panel with a new annexation agreement, stating that the village would agree to pay annually for a period of 25 years what the township would have collected if a piece of property was not annexed.
“I hope we can reopen dialogue for the opportunity of growth,” he said.
In a letter to the trustees of Fulton, Pike, Swan Creek, and York townships, Delta Mayor Dan Miller says the agreement is modeled after a standing agreement between Clinton Township and the City of Wauseon.
York Township Trustee Jeff Mazurowski, a Delta resident, said while he supports annexation, “this contract is not the answer”. York Township has previously rejected numerous proposed offers from the village, who struck an annexation agreement with Nature Fresh Farms in 2015 to provide continuous village services, costing the township thousands of dollars in tax revenue.
County Commissioner Jeff Rupp cited that the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation is hoping to bring three major projects to the county in the near future, which could easily be derailed by an underlying political feud.
“I don’t know what I can say to both parties, but all three of these would be very good to the community. It’s been embarrassing- some of the things we’ve had to deal with with Nature Fresh. Move beyond what has happened the last two years and work this out,” Rupp urged.
The final topic of discussion was a Parks and Recreation district, where Peebles cited that 59 percent of season passes in 2016 for the Delta community pool were sold to non-residents, and the village is running out of room for new development. Pike Township Trustee Jack Wagner called the proposal an “admirable adventure”.
Wherever the conversation veers to, most of the elected officials are pleased with the potential for cooperation in Fulton County.
“I think, working together, we can make anything happen,” said Delta Councilman Art Thomas.
Cory Johnson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org