MONROE TOWNSHIP — For 40 years, Monroe Township has contracted with College Township for fire and emergency services.
That contract, which has in recent years been for one-year terms, expires at the end of the year and trustees from the two townships have been talking for the last month about the terms of the contract.
The price has been agreed to — $198,000, which is a slight increase from the $193,000 Monroe has paid the last two years, and which Monroe Township says is the maximum they can pay with the current 5 mills of levy support. Monroe trustees say they want to keep their levy for fire and EMS at 5 mills. College Township originally asked for $215,000.
But the tripping point has been a list of “additional conditions” Monroe Township said they wanted to add to the contract. Monroe trustees also feel College Township and the village of Gambier don’t pay a fair share of costs and they want Kenyon’s support regularized.
The additional concerns Monroe Township wanted to include in the contract included:
•The Human Resource person will be a certified fire/EMS person and if not, paid through funds other than the funds for fire/EMS.
•Monroe Township will need to sign off on expenses above $1,000.
•Monroe Township will have a say on the hiring, firing of employees along with salaries, benefits and promotions.
•New hires must have their training completed before being hired and/or an enforceable reimbursement contract be signed.
•Kenyon College will cover all expenses related to the initial training and turnout gear for Kenyon students.
•The Monroe Township trustees expect the College Township trustees to have the village of Gambier move toward implementing an income tax of no less than .75 percent for fire/EMS. College Township will still use mills to cover their portion of the fire/EMS protection.
At their meeting Monday, the College Township trustees rejected all those conditions and sent their proposed new contract — essentially the old contract with the small increase to $198,000 — to Monroe Township.
Monroe Township trustee Bill Pursel said he was not surprised by College Township’s response.
“I expected it,” he said.
Pursel said they have been reviewing the general situation for some months, exploring possibilities of merging with Eastern Knox or Fredericktown fire departments.
He provided notes from recent meetings in which members expressed concern about the price of the fire and EMS services, based on the size of the population served. The notes also included some general analysis of what would need to be done if Monroe Township starts its own fire/EMS unit or looks into a merger with a neighboring fire district.
He said the inquiries about merging with one of the other districts have been more in the line of general conversations to determine what options might be available for the township. They have apparently not been looking at contracting for service from Mount Vernon, although in an early assessment that was listed as an option.
Pursel assures residents that no one will be without fire and EMS service, even if the department has to go “on its own.”
At the Oct. 11 meeting, the Monroe trustees discussed the contract situation and spelled out the additions they wanted, Pursel said he has not had a chance to discuss the situation with the other trustees (Neil Bower and Kevin Henthorn), so he doesn’t know what they will decide, but indicated that approving the contract as last offered by College Township would be an option to give them a year to work on the situation.
Bower said he has not had time to review the material College had sent and prefers to make his statements at the public meeting. Henthorn did not return a call asking about his concerns.
It was Bower who, in the account of an Oct. 5 meeting, is credited with raising the issues of having a say in expenses exceeding $1,000, having a say in hirings, firings and promotions, having new hires already trained, suggesting limiting the number of student volunteers and specifying that Kenyon pays for all additional training.
The Monroe trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the township house on Wooster Road.