BATH TOWNSHIP — The Bath Township Board of Trustees hired a local attorney to negotiate a contract agreement with the City of Fairborn for annual fire protection and emergency medical services.
During the Oct. 17 meeting, trustees unanimously approved a motion to retain the James M. Hill Law Firm in Beavercreek to represent the township’s interests during the negotiation process. Bath Township Trustee Steve Ross told residents attending the meeting that the board had recently received a fire and EMS contract proposal from Fairborn.
“Fairborn has turned over their negotiations to their attorney, Mike Mayer. Such a move demanded that we enlist legal representation as well,” Ross said.
The current fire and EMS contract agreement was set to expire at the end of December 2017. However, city officials extended the agreement for one year. According to Township Fiscal Officer Elaine Brown, the township paid the city $689,000 for fire protection and emergency medical services in 2018.
A five-year, 7-mill fire levy, which voters approved in November 2014, provided $655,000 in tax dollars toward the annual fee. The remaining balance of $34,000 was paid from the township’s fire fund.
“At one time, fire fund receipts exceeded expenditures, so we had a carryover. However, five years ago, that trend reversed, and expenditures now exceed receipts. We will end the year with about $368,000 in the fire fund which will not last long at the going rate,” Brown said. “Our current fire levy will be on the ballot for renewal in November 2019 as well.”
Ross also pointed out that the board of trustees remain convinced that the current rate of $1,325 per run is too high, witnessed by the fact that Fairborn reimbursed Bath Township $90,000 in 2016.
According to the terms of the proposed five-year contract, the township would pay the city $1,089,000 for fire and EMS coverage in 2019. However, the annual fee would increase to $1.2 million per year for 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
“That’s an 83.2 percent increase starting in 2020 through 2023,” said Ross. “Our current fire levy nets $655,000 per year, so our outlay of money would drastically exceed our income. I was shocked. This is not acceptable. We, the trustees, are residents ourselves, entrusted with the welfare of Bath Township. In keeping, we must buy adequate fire and EMS protection; and as fire and EMS customers, we must make sure we are buying at the right price.”
Township resident Joe Batman suggested that the city search for ways to decrease operating costs associated with providing fire and EMS coverage to township residents.
“The current situation with fire and EMS departments is that every community is trying to out build the other, and we do not need the Taj Mahal. These are unrealistic numbers, and everyone in the township would jump through the ceiling about an 83.2 percent tax increase,” he said. “Fairborn obviously has financial problems, and they are looking for the golden goose.”
Resident Dave Anderson asked what the millage rate would be if additional taxes were levied to cover the proposed 83.2 percent increase in fire and EMS fees.
“The necessary millage for an additional levy is really a question for the county auditor. I can only extrapolate that if the current 7 mills brings in $655,000, we would need an additional levy of 5.8 mills to cover the increased cost,” said Brown.
Township Trustee Tom Pitstick pointed out that the proposed fee increases do not reflect the actual costs of providing fire and EMS coverage to township residents.
“City officials have admitted that the township represents only 8 percent of their annual runs. Taking that 8 percent into consideration, that would be $579,048,” Pitstick said. “This service should be based on actual cost, not a formula that has been created.”
“Our negotiations with the city use to be neighborly years ago, but unfortunately, the environment has changed,” Township Trustee John Martin added.