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Perry Twp. trustees, fire department reach short- term funding agreement
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By Carol McIntire
Perry Township trustees and township fire department officials came to a short-term agreement on funding last week.
The two entities are at odds over how the township should disburse revenues from two township levies for fire protection. Trustees would like to compensate Carrollton Village Fire Department for mutual aid runs in the township. Fire department officials want trustees to transfer the entire amount to their bank account.
The contract between the two entities expires Feb. 28.
Discussion was held and the short-term agreement reached during the Feb. 15 trustee meeting, which was moved from the township garage office to the township hall to accommodate the nearly 20 people in attendance.
Trustee President Gary Staten and trustees Donald “Donny” Leggett Jr. and Calvin Logan quickly put the rumor to rest that trustees wanted to “shut down the fire department.”
“We have no intention of closing the fire department down,” Staten stated, adding their concern is there aren’t any fire department members with current firefighting credentials available to respond to fires between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. When the department is toned and no one responds, Carrollton fire department responds.
Logan presented a call sheet from the county sheriff’s dispatch center showing between July 2021 and Jan. 26, 2022, there were 21 calls during the day that were not answered by Perry Twp.
Fire Chief Eric Horn disputed the report, saying there were two calls in 2021 the village responded to where Perry Twp. firefighters were not on scene.
Township resident Ted Lairson, a former member of the fire department, joined the conversations, stating when the village fire department “took over the county fire department, it assumed the county fire department’s mutual aid contracts. “Previously, the county provided mutual aid to every department in the county,” he said.
Carrollton Fire Chief Shane Thomas told The Messenger the village fire department did not assume any mutual aid agreements from the county department.
“There is a countywide agreemement, a gentleman’s agreement, between all departments that we will provide one truck and the manpower to run it for structure fires, but there is no contract,” he said.
“My first priority is the taxpayers of the village of Carrollton. When available, will will continue to provide mutual aid to other departments because that is the only option we have.”
“We are just worried about township residents having fire protection during the day and want to make it better,” Leggett said. “We feel the village should be compensated for coming out here.”
“If you start paying the village, are you going to pay, Loudon, Scio and all the other departments that provide mutual aid?” asked fireman Josh Howard. “We can’t help it if we aren’t here. We all have jobs. That’s why we have mutual aid.”
“If you want to pay them, take it out of the township general fund or your own pockets,” Lairson said.
Fire department members asked trustees if they had a percentage of the levy funds in mind they want to give the village department and accused trustees of meeting with Carrollton Fire Chief Shane Laizure and talking “money and percentages” before approaching them.
Trustees denied talking money or percentages with Thomas or any other village fire official, but did not deny talking to Laizure about the department responding to township calls.
Marcia Trushel, township fiscal advisor and one of eight fire department members, explained the township receives two tax settlements per year from the county auditor, noting under the current contract, 100 percent of that money is transferred to the fire department.
According to Horn, some previous contracts provided a specific dollar amount that would be transferred to the fire department. Often, the amount of money transferred didn’t cover expenses so the contract was changed to state the department received 100 percent of the money received by the township.
Following a nearly one hour back-and-forth discussion, Trushel asked trustees, “Would you be willing to sign a contract for the first draw of money?”
Fire Department President Bryan Mossor stated if trustees signed the contract for a six-month period, he would present the contract to the fire department during a Feb. 20 meeting. If the department approved, the contract will be signed and returned to trustees well before the expiration date.
“Do you understand we are just trying to help you guys? Leggett asked. “Fire fighting is a dying breed. No one wants to do it anymore and certainly not as a volunteer. We are just trying to make sure township residents have adequate fire coverage all the time.”
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