Will the township and city join forces to fight fires?
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HUBBARD — Council members have placed an ordinance for the adoption of legislation to create a joint fire district with the township, but language in the agreement has some on council a little uneasy and calling for some changes.
The initial resolution to create the Eagle Joint Fire District called for all funds held by each municipality to operate the current volunteer fire department to be handed over to the fire district.
The city has about $95,000 to operate the current fire department, and the township has about $145,000.
Township officials, at a previous meeting, said the two municipalities should contribute equally, so they asked that the resolution stipulate an equal contribution from both municipalities — meaning the city kick in an additional $50,000 or the township contribute only $95,000.
The resolution was amended to add the word “equal” in terms of startup money from each municipality, but council members now want the wording changed.
Councilman William Williams, who was against adding the equal wording, said the city has supplied utilities to the fire station, which is in the city, for years and cost-free water to put out fires and with no contribution from the township.
He said any additional contribution from the city above the $95,000 in the fire fund should be taken “in kind” considering the building and associated costs.
Councilwoman Lisha Baumiller said both municipalities should contribute whatever is in the fire levy fund to the startup costs and no more.
“I am sorry we don’t have the same amount they do, but that is the money available in the fire levy fund,” she said.
The township, Baumiller said, should be required to hand over its funds in full, just as the city is willing to do.
“What else are they going to do with it? It’s fire levy money,” she said.
‘No matter what’
Law Director Jeff Adler seemed to agree with Baumiller, saying the township could initially contribute the $95,000 to match the city, but would eventually be forced to contribute the remaining $50,000 under another clause in the resolution stating that all funds left over at the end of the year be given to the fire district.
“That levy money is earmarked. They would have to give it up no matter what,” he said.
Adler told council that the “equal” contribution wording would either have to be removed or wording about in-kind contributions would have to be added.
Council has called a meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday to further discuss the matter. Township officials, they said, would be invited.