After months of wrangling over a new fire service agreement between Archbold Village Council and the German Township Trustees, a new agreement will soon be in place.
The trustees signed the agreement during their Monday, Jan. 8 meeting.
Those documents will go to Donna Dettling, Archbold village administrator.
Dettling said Tuesday morning once she gets two copies of the agreement signed by the trustees, she will personally take them to Jeff Fryman, mayor, and Kevin Morton, council president, to sign as soon as possible.
Archbold Village Council approved the agreement at its Dec. 18, 2017 meeting.
In a special meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 3, trustees Andy Brodbeck, Joe Short, and Kenneth “Skip” Leupp met with Scott Haselman, Fulton County prosecutor, who is the legal advisor to the trustees.
During that meeting, the fire service contract was reviewed, and minor wording changes were made.
Reading from a prepared statement, Leupp, president of the trustees, said, “Before we vote on this agreement, on behalf of Joe, Andy and myself, we want to share a few of our thoughts, as well as our appreciation.”
Leupp is starting his 11th year as a trustee.
“As German Township trustees, it is our responsibility to look at and consider what is best for all residents of German Township, both in the unincorporated area and the incorporated area,” Leupp said.
‘Through discussions and negotiation with the village officials, we believe the terms within this fire agreement accomplished this, and therefore are excited about the opportunities of approving it.
“We do want to thank Archbold mayor Jeff Fryman, Archbold council president Kevin Morton, and the village council for working with us on this agreement.
“As a result, we accomplished this together and have also begun a new and beneficial working relationship.
“We also need to thank county auditor Brett Kolb, and as well, village administrator Donna Dettling for all the work and help they provided during our discussions.
“And we give our appreciation to legal counsel, our county prosecutor Scott Haselman, and the Archbold legal counsel, Bob Bohmer and Mark Hagans, for finalizing the legal document while maintaining the intent of the terms within it.
“And we’d be remiss if we don’t thank the fire department. I don’t know if words alone can thank this fire department for what they’ve been through. We’d like to thank them for their patience, as well as express our appreciation for their commitment to our community, township, and county.
“Throughout this entire process, safety services have never been compromised, which speaks volumes for the men and women serving on the department.”
Vaughn Bentz, a village councilman, attended the meeting.
Asked to speak by Leupp, Bentz said he appreciated the statement, adding it was similar to statements made by council members.
“You’re right. The fire department has been exemplary throughout this whole thing. It’s too bad they were put in the middle,” Bentz said.
“It’s very pleasing to have that done, and we’re really looking forward to working with you guys.”
In an interview after the meeting, under the terms of the new agreement, the township will finance the operation of the fire department through a township property tax levy.
Currently, the village pays for the fire department operation and the fire stations through the village general fund, while the township purchases, owns, and maintains the fire trucks.
“As of Year 1, the village will submit its expenses for 2018,” Brodbeck said.
“And the township will pay the village in January 2019,” Short said.
“The residents (of the township, inside and outside the village) will own the fire equipment, and we will hold title to it,” Brodbeck said.
“And we’ll insure it,” Short said.
“The levy will be fair to each and every resident of the township. There will be one levy throughout German Township.”
“Equality. Everyone in the township gets the same service, every taxpayer pays the same millage for the service, and every taxpayer has ownership” of the equipment, Leupp said.
“Once the village signs the agreement and it goes into effect, we will have a joint meeting” to discuss a new levy for the department,” Brodbeck said.
Leupp said the new levy could make its first appearance on the ballot in the May primary election.
A proposal was in place for a two-mill property tax levy for fire department operations in the November 2017 election, but the trustees pulled that levy request from the ballot days before the election.
The amount of a new levy has not been determined.
The agreement calls for an annual meeting on the second Tuesday of July between village and township officials to review and determine an overall annual budget, Brodbeck said.
The trustees were asked: after months of contentious and sometimes heated negotiations, who won.
“Every citizen won,” Leupp said.