By Amanda Amsel
The Franklin Township Fire Department, along with the city of Columbus Division of Fire and Grandview Heights Division of Fire are scrambling to ensure the village of Valleyview has fire protection in 2016.
At a recent board meeting, Franklin Township trustee Tim Guyton asked what the status was of the fire contract for Valleyview.
“The village of Valleyview’s fire contract with the township expires at the end of December. What is the status of this contract,” he asked. “No one from Valleyview has reached out, so this concerns me.”
However, Franklin Township Assistant Fire Chief Chas Adams said this issue is being resolved.
“Chief Welch attended their council meeting and discussed renewing their contract with no increase for three years,” Adams said. “Columbus and Upper Arlington have also agreed to this.”
The township, Columbus and Upper Arlington have provided fire service to the village for over 30 years, however this is the first time in a number of years there has not been an incremental increase in fees. Typically, according to Adams, there is a small increase due to inflation.
The new contract, which hasn’t been signed by the village yet, would have Grandview and Columbus take runs into the village. Franklin Township would take runs, take care of inspecting fire hydrants and conduct fire investigations.
However, Adams was quick to note that if the new contract is not signed by the time the current contract expires, they will not leave people in need.
“We are not going to let people go unprotected,” he said. “Franklin Township, Columbus and Grandview will all make sure Valleyview is protected, even if the contract can’t be signed until early 2016.”
The Valleyview Village Council only meets once a month, so the council may not vote on the contract until the beginning of 2016.
Guyton said the township should not provide any service without a signed contract.
“The township lawfully should not be providing any services to the village without a contract.
This would put undue burden on the township taxpayers while providing a free service to the village residents,” he said. “If we provide a service without a contract, it would cost the township. If a contract is negotiated for less money than is in the current contract, it will cost the township taxpayers money to supplement the Valleyview residents. Our own chief is on record stating that the Valleyview residents should pay no less than what the township residents pay.”
Adams said the township agreed to not increase Valleyview rates because they understand the financial burden the village is under.
“They are cash strapped like Franklin Township,” Adams said. “They are using money from their general fund to pay for this service, so we want to be good neighbors and work with them.”
Currently, the contract pays the township $20,000 annually to do building inspections for commercial properties, according to Guyton. The township also inspects fire hydrants and repairs/replaces them.
“Valleyview pays $39,000 additional dollars which are shared equally amongst the three departments depending upon the number of runs each department makes into the village during the calendar year,” Guyton said. “If we are not doing these tasks, we would be making runs elsewhere.”