A decision by the Fulton Board of County Commissioners to deny Archbold’s border conformity request is still a hot topic for the Village Council.
The 2-1 decision Dec. 22 to maintain the status quo has done nothing to heal a rift with German Township or to improve relations with the county board. The issue has now engulfed discussions about the fate of fire equipment for the local fire department.
The village has tried repeatedly to set up a time for its representatives and the township’s to discuss the equipment but to no avail. The village maintains it can go out and purchase new or more up-to-date equipment if the township continues to drag its feet, Council member Kevin Morton said.
There is a meeting scheduled for Jan. 23, but council members are not confident anything will happen. Especially after the township has bailed on six to eight other meetings.
If there is no resolution, the village could buy new equipment at what Fire Chief Andy Broadbeck estimates will cost $1 million more than the current equipment is valued. If the township sells the old equipment, the village by contract, can ask for 70 percent of the proceeds, Morton said.
During a time of council discussion on the fire equipment meeting and recent county board rejection of Archbold’s boundary confirmation request, the council members let loose on the German Township board and some of their fury on retired Commissioner Paul Barnaby who was called the townships’ “legal counsel.”
The commissioners’ decision still grates on the council as the village wants its autonomy now. The council may try again for the border conformity request.
How the township board would react is anyone’s guess, Morton said.
“The trustees are a little reluctant ,” Morton said. “They are scared to move forward.
The formula has already been created, it’s patterned off EMS, Morton said.
“It’s very fair,” he said.
The village will need to impress on its attorney to impress on the township’s attorney that much headway needs to be made in the fire equipment talks before Jan. 23. The board has had six months to come up with a response.
“I do not want to be locked in for five years,” Morton said. “They are obligated to all 6,500 people.”
The solution for council is simple, the township needs to come up with all the money; it falls squarely in their lap. So far, the township has been silent.
According to Administrator Donna Dettling, the township has turned down six to eight meetings over a six-month period. The council has been patient but that is nearing the end.
“If we have to wait until Jan. 23,we should give them 90 days,” Council member Kenny Cowell said. “Get to the point. Let’s move forward.”
“It’s a black eye on the trustees, if we buy now,” Vaughn Bentz said of new fire equipment.
The township has been paying $56,000 for its share of the fire department support, but now wants to cut that to $51,000, Morton said. The village consented, but now is rethinking the decision.
“We did so to play nice and be fair,” Morton said. “If they can pay $56,000, why do they get to pay less.”
Council members are visibly frustrated with the lack of progress.
“We have gotten nothing done,” Kevin Eicher said.
“We are trying to talk, but they aren’t talking to us,” Ed Leininger said.
There’s no justification, they said Andy’s numbers are not right. There’s no facts, just emotion.
“I hope we can come up with something.”
Turning to the Fulton County board, the council focused on Barnaby. For some on council, Barnaby was not nonpartisan about the boundary question.
“If Paul Barnaby was (the township’s) legal counsel, he didn’t look at this objectively,” Morton said.
The fact county commissioners are former trustees makes the road harder for villages seeking relief, Bentz said.
Others want to appeal to a higher power.
“The state needs to fix this,” Leininger said. “I was disappointed.”
The handling of the public hearing on the boundary question disturbed council.
Morton called the audience, many of whom spoke on the record or cheered those in opposition a “lynch mob orchestrated by Barnaby.”
“They kept arguing, and (Barnaby) was inviting more questions, and attacks,” Morton said.
“We need to learn from it, we were there.”
Some political reality was faced as council ended its discussion on this truth. While the village voted for the current council, “The same people voted for those trustees,” Morton said.
In other news,
The village collected nearly $4.936 million in income taxes this year – a record amount. The year-to-date total was nearly $1 million more than 2015 and $1.2 million more than 2014.
The council approved a change order for the Wilson and West Beech Street improvement project to reflect the final quantities of materials installed. The change boosted the price $7,162.97 to a final contract price of $999,197.97.
•Approved a General Fund appropriation for 2017 of $2,985,019.
•Approved the hiring of Kyle Broadbeck as a full-time paramedic.
•Accepted Fulton County’s roadway use, repair and maintenance agreement with Rover Pipeline LLC allowing the company to use local roads to move its vehicles and equipment while installing a pipeline through parts of land governed by the village and the townships.
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org