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MAHONING COUNTY New Middletown, Springfield Twp. to consider a joint fire department



Published: Tue, July 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



One council member wondered who would benefit more from combined fire services.

NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Springfield Township Trustee Reed Metzka asked New Middletown Village Council members at their meeting Wednesday to consider forming a combined fire department to save both departments money.

The township and the village both operate their own volunteer fire departments.

Metzka proposed a joint fire district similar to many already in Mahoning County. He pointed to Canfield village and township, which formed the Cardinal Joint Fire District and Poland village and township, which combined to make the Western Reserve Fire District.

In addition, he said the city of Salem and Perry Township are also moving toward a joint district and that possibility may also be considered by Campbell, Struthers and Lowellville.

Council members appeared willing to consider the proposal.

Metzka said, in answer to council member Ruth Miller's question, that he has not proposed the district to his two fellow Springfield Township trustees. But he said he will bring it up at their monthly meeting Wednesday.

Not a new idea

New Middletown Mayor Robert Carson noted that twice before, New Middletown and Springfield townships have considered a unified fire district.

However both efforts failed because details could not be worked out. He said he recalls "the consensus was that somewhere down the road it was worth pursuing."

Council member Jack Novicky agreed, adding, "It just wasn't right at that time."

However council member Dan Santangelo questioned whether the township would profit more than the village from such a move.

The village just bought a new pumper, while the township has two older models that need to be replaced, he said.

But Clerk/ Treasurer Carl Flitcraft Jr. said that in any such joint fire district, assets of the two departments are taken into account and any disparities would be equalized.

Springfield Township is about three times the size of the village, and Flitcraft said costs would be divided up proportionately once assets are taken into account.

If a joint fire district were formed, it would be an entity independent of the village or the township and would be governed by a board whose makeup is dictated by state law.

Metzka acknowledged that in June he voted against placing a 1-mill continuous fire levy on the ballot for the township because he believes levies should be limited.

He said that approaching the village about a joint district is his effort to explore other options for funding rather than going to the voters.

What else

In other business Monday, council:

UApproved three-year contracts with police Sgts. Ken Goist and Vince D'Egidio. The contracts, retroactive to May 2, give both men a 3 percent increase for 2005, which brings them to $36,000, with additional 2 percent increases in July 2006 and 2007.

They are also eligible for a third vacation week after five years. They also might, for the first time, have a co-pay on their hospitalization premiums if they exceed a designated amount.

UAccepted the low bid of $133,481 from Foust Construction to proceed with a storm sewer project on Stacy Drive.

UAgreed to buy six new picnic tables at $175 each from Mahoning Lawn Structures, Unity, for Welker Park. Council President Bill Douglas abstained after questioning whether the Mahoning County Green Team had been contacted to see whether any free tables or grants were available for such a project.

Also, Carson said he received word that the village won't likely receive any state or federal grants toward remodeling the municipal building once the library moves out. The village has set aside $60,000 from county sales tax receipts for the project but had hoped for some additional help.

UAt Santangelo's request, Village Solicitor Jeffrey Heintz will look into what is necessary to require residents to mow grass on rights of way in agricultural zoned districts that are not covered by the grass-mowing ordinance.




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