The German Township Trustees want to do everything possible to avoid jeopardizing the German Township-Archbold Fire Department in wake of the village proposal to separate from the township.
The trustees discussed the impacts of the proposed separation at its Monday, June 13 meeting.
The village of Archbold began the process of asking the Fulton County commissioners to redraw the boundaries of the township.
If approved, Archbold, which is currently part of German Township, will be separated from the township.
The move will mean taxpayers who own property in the village will save about $262,768, said Brett Kolb, Fulton County auditor.
For the owner of a home within the village with a market value of $100,000, the yearly savings will amount to about $61.10, he said.
German Township would lose the $262,768 amount.
But the bigger concern at the Monday night trustee meeting was the impact on the fire department.
“Some major decisions will have to be made,” said Randy Ruffer, president of the trustees.
For decades, Archbold and German Township have worked cooperatively, with Archbold providing the manpower and the fire stations, while German Township owns and maintains the fire trucks.
If the village and township separate, how will the fire department function?
Bruce Lauber, a former firefighter and township trustee, said a businessman offered him space to store the fire trucks if the two sides could not come to an agreement.
Lauber said some kind of contract would have to be drawn up between the two sides; otherwise, Archbold has no equipment to fight fires.
Ruffer said based on a quote in this newspaper, village officials don’t want to see anything change regarding the fire department operation.
Ruffer said there has to be a discussion between the two sides “that needs to begin with the understanding that everybody ought to take a step back.”
If the two entities separate, “What are we saying? What are we doing?” Ruffer said.
“Everyone will lose,” said Kenneth “Skip” Leupp, trustee.
Andy Brodbeck, Archbold fire chief, said his, and the department’s, only concern is to provide the public services– fire protection and emergency medical services.
Lauber told Brodbeck, “I appreciate that, Andy, but I think on Wednesday morning when the Buckeye prints their story, people are going to say, ‘I wish Andy would have taken a stance, so we would know who to back.’
“I think the people of Archbold are going to allow, or disapprove of this separation…
“What you have to say will have a big impact.”
Lauber said he understood he put Brodbeck in a difficult situation, because the fire chief is employed by the village.
Brodbeck did not respond directly, only emphasizing that his only concern was that AFD continue to provide fire and rescue services.
Another item discussed was if the township loses tax revenue from Archbold taxpayers, the trustees could not afford to maintain and purchase fire trucks. What would happen then?
He said if the two entities separate, decisions will need to be made, and it will be everyone’s responsibility to ensure that emergency services continue.
Among other impacts of a village-township separation is a question of annexations.
Keith Short, township fiscal officer, said Heidi M. Fought, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Township Association, said any annexation of German Township territory after 2002 would be void and the property would fall back under township control.
He said Fought cited section 709.023 of the Ohio Revised Code (Section 709.023 may be read at http://codes. ohio.gov/orc/709.023).
Also, Short said Fought advised the trustees to take a public statement issued by the villages of Archbold, Delta, and Swanton, and refute each point made in the statement.
Then the rebuttal statement must be presented to the commissioners, who will make the ultimate decision on whether or not the proposal will go through.
Ruffer said he spoke with Scott Haselman, Fulton County prosecuting attorney.
Ruffer told the trustees Haselman said he could not get involved at this point in the process, because the issue is political.
However, Ruffer said Haselman told him once the commissioners make a decision, he will do all he can to help the township.
Another impact would be that Short could no longer serve as fiscal officer, because he lives within the village of Archbold.
Short said officials with the Ohio Township Association told him “I would be done, effective whatever date (the separation) became effective.”
Ruffer called for better communication between the village and the township.
He noted that over the years, the trustees had never opposed a village annexation.
Actually, there had only been one issue on which the sides disagreed, a 1999 (approximately) dispute between the village and the township over stop signs on Co. Rd. 24.
Village officials wanted the stop signs changed so traffic flow from the Ohio Turnpike would not need to stop.
The trustees took the opposite approach, putting four-way stops at each intersection.
The trustees said if they had complied with the village request, heavy truck traffic would have torn up the road, and the trustees could not have afforded the repairs.
Ruffer said he appreciated village council members attending the trustee meeting of Monday, May 9.
He said he did not appreciate their attitude at the meeting.
Short said the trustees had asked about what could be done to “heal” the situation between the village and the township.
He said “people” he had talked to, “are not willing to do anything until you (the trustees) do something about Co. Rd. 24.
“Now, minds can be changed,” Short said.
Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator, was asked in a June 13 email by this newspaper when the separation issue was discussed in an open public meeting.
An answer was not immediately received.
When asked in a followup email if Howell had an answer yet, he replied, “No, I do not.”