SIDNEY — Sidney City Council discussed township fire and ambulance contracts during its Monday evening workshop meeting.
Sidney Fire Chief Chad Hollinger provided information on the contracts and then sought direction from City Council on potential changes to 2022 fire protection and emergency ambulance service contracts with various townships. A question posed by Mayor Mike Barhorst to the fire chief during council’s March 8 meeting asking if the contracts cover the city’s direct costs prompted an investigation, with the help of other city staff members, and then Monday’s discussion. Hollinger said he thinks the contracts about meets the city’s direct costs, but does not cover indirect costs of equipment depreciation, training and administrative costs, which all have increased over the years.
Historically, Hollinger said, a standard 3% increase for township contracts has been implemented. Except for Washington Township, the dollar values below reflect a 3% increase over the following townships’ contracts:
• Clinton: 2021: EMS, $28,814, and fire, $39,530; 2020: EMS, $27,975, and fire, $38,379.
This is an increase of $839 for EMS, and $1,151 for fire protection.
• Orange: 2021: EMS, $11,193, and fire, $10,921; 2020: EMS, $7,636, and fire, $10,602;
This is an increase of $3,557 for EMS, and $319 for fire protection.
An additional 6.6-square-miles of the township were brought under contract on March 9, 2021.
• Franklin: 2021 fire, $10,921; 2020; fire, $9,991.
This is an increase of $300 for fire protection.
• Washington: EMS $1 for year 2021 and again $1 for 2020.
In Washington Township, Sidney covers a section of Interstate 75 that is less than a mile long. The only access to the section in Shelby County is from Sidney.
Hollinger said during a quest to find other ways to fund needs for the fire department, they discovered the two best, most reliable sources could come from an income tax levy and a re-evaluation of the township contracts.
Hollinger’s presentation further detailed the townships’ contract price breakdown going back to 2016, as well as information on the department’s apparatus and personnel. He also provided preliminary information learned during a 2020 contract study.
After some discussion with council members about billing and other details in his presentation, Hollinger recommended allowing further research to determine a fair fee structure. After that structure is determined, he suggested increasing contracts by 3-10% based on each individual township’s evaluation. Hollinger also said he heard, but needs to further look into it, that the current 3% rate annually charged by the city was promised to continue for the townships until the life of their individual levies expire.
At the end of the discussion, Hollinger was directed to investigate whether the 3% rate was promised to the townships and to continue his research to determine a fair fee structure.
In other business, City Council also discussed whether to prohibit parking on part of or at least one side of Maple, Bay, Clay and Grove Streets and Sycamore Avenue.
The discussion was prompted, said Public Works Director Jon Crusey, after a driver for Republic Services, the city’s contractual refuse and recycling hauler, told Mayor Mike Barhorst it is difficult to drive a refuse truck down Maple Street. The street is narrow and parking is permitted on both sides of the road. The other narrow streets, mentioned, which allows parking on both sides, were also discussed by city staff, as they are also difficult for snow plows and fire equipment to navigated down.
Council members all expressed concern with safety but also for residents to be able to have a place to park their vehicles at their homes. Crusey was directed to continue to look into the issue and bring it back for further consideration at a future meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Mayor Mike Barhorst urged council members to attend Sidney Fire’s educational open house night of family, food and fun held Oct. 4 at Fire Station 1. He also reminded all about city’s tree sale, ending Friday, Oct. 8, and spoke about the soon to be lower rates for residential electric aggregation program that will change to Energy Harbor, LLC in December.
Council members Darryl Thurber and Ed Hamaker both were absent Monday, and were both excused by council.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.