Archbold Village Council has approved a draft agreement for the operation of the Archbold Fire Department that will be presented to the German Township Trustees.
Council approved the measure at its Monday, Dec. 18 meeting.
The agreement comes after almost two years of haggling between the two entities over the future of the department.
Jeff Fryman, mayor, said the new draft agreement was negotiated between himself, council members, and the 2018 version of the trustees, which will include newly-elected trustees Andy Brodbeck and Joe Short, and returning incumbent Kenneth “Skip” Leupp.
In a later interview, Fryman said, “The newly-elected members of the trustee board were very interested.
“I think they had been involved in listening to the concerns from both sides, and they kind of formulated an idea in their minds where the agreement needed to go.
“As I talked to Andy and Joe about my concerns, they were very agreeable. They just asked that we would take their concerns” into account.”
Both sides conceded some of their previous demands.
•The township will continue to hold title to the fire equipment, including the fire trucks.
“But the new board will say the equipment is owned by the residents and taxpayers of German Township. They will only hold title to it, but all of the residents own it,” Fryman said.
“We were willing to drop our demand for title to the equipment because the new board is willing to recognize that the department, the equipment, belong to all of the residents of German Township,” he said.
•Council agreed to take separation, the removal of Archbold from the limits of German Township, off the table.
That, Fryman said, “made the agreement come together that much quicker.”
•Both sides agreed that township residents outside the village will pay no more for fire service than village residents.
Fryman said the trustees asked for that, “and we were willing to put that into the agreement.
•In return, the 2018 trustees will recognize that over the preceding 30 years, taxpayers in the village paid 68.57% for that equipment through township-levied property taxes, thus giving the village that much equity in the equipment.
Township residents outside the village will have 31.34% equity.
Speaking during the council meeting, Kevin Morton, a councilman, said that in discussions with Brodbeck, Short, and Leupp, “It was very refreshing to hear them refer to ‘we,’ meaning everyone inside the village” and those outside.
“I really felt they were sincere in their efforts to look at the big picture.
“I mean, we got off on the right foot immediately, and there’s not one side of this, like there has been in the past, that was contributing more to the discussion than the other.
“In this case, I felt that both sides, through all of our communications, really worked well together, and I’m excited about moving forward.”
During a council work session on Thursday, Dec. 14, council members met in executive session with Brodbeck, Short, and Leupp for about 15 minutes.
The stated reason for the executive session was “contract negotiations.”
Council voted to approve the agreement. It will be presented to the township trustees at their first meeting of the year, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018.
If the trustees approve the contract at that meeting, Fryman said he, Donna Dettling, village administrator, and the newly-elected council president will sign the agreement, making it binding.
During another part of the council meeting, Dettling said she received the 2018 election schedule.
She said if things go well with the township, village officials and the trustees will “look at… getting the (fire) levy in front of the voters.”
Under a proposal developed by Dettling, the trustees would put a two-mill property tax on an upcoming ballot for fire protection and then non-collect two current fire levies.
In return, the council would reduce the 3.3-mill property tax levy by seventenths (.7) mill.
The trustees had put the two-mill levy on the Nov. 7 general election ballot, but during a Monday, Oct. 30 special meeting, voted to remove the levy.
The levy was not actually removed from the electronic voting machines. Instead, the Fulton County Board of Elections simply did not count any votes cast.
The first council meeting of 2018 is Tuesday, Jan. 2, 7 pm, in council chambers.– David Pugh