|Council approves townships' fire rescue, police union contracts|
|Monday, December 23, 2013 9:06 PM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
DELPHOS — Four pieces of legislation flew off city council’s agenda Monday night during a special meeting called to address contract negotiations and finances.
Council suspended the rules and passed on emergency measure four ordinances, including fire and rescue protection for Marion and Washington townships, the police union contract and fund transfers to address interest due on deferred loan payments from the water and sewer funds.
The Marion Township fire protection and rescue contract includes a 19-percent reduction from $55,000 to $45,000 each year for three years. Mayor Michael Gallmeier said Marion Township Trustees said if the city didn’t agree to the reduction, the township would seek out American Township to take on 10 addition square miles of the township up to Defiance Trail and Delphos would see even less from the township.
Gallmeier also said Acting Fire Chief Kevin Streets did not want to give up the coverage area.
Township Trustee Jerry Gilden told The Delphos Herald last week the trustees were seeing the same cuts in funding the city has and was concerned the city reduced the number of firefighters at the station on any given shift.
“We can’t spend more than we’re taking in,” Gilden said. “We want to pay for our fire and rescue protection but we want to pay our fair share. They are billing us about 10 percent of their total costs and I think we are only getting around 7 percent of their services. Now they have only one firefighter on duty on any shift. That isn’t the same service we had before.”
Gallmeier also said Gilden had questioned the number of firefighters on duty.
Councilman Rick Hanser said the township had been trying to get the contract amount lowered prior to the city’s decision to reduce the number of firefighters on duty and he wanted township residents to know he felt their trustees had not bargained in good faith.
Delphos collected approximately $35,000 from township residents for ambulance runs last year and can bill residents’ and businesses’ insurance companies for fire calls.
The Washington Township fire and rescue contract was the same as the last three years with zero increase for the next three years. The township pays $32,299 per year with residents.
The three-year police union contract included no raises for three years with a reopen clause for years two and three. Sick leave and personal leave remained the same with the addition of five personal days for senior personnel with 25 or more years. Insurance paid by employees will match the percentage paid by all city employees.
Resident Tim Honigford, a regular at council meetings in the past months, asked to speak on the police contract. Honigford asked why they would approve such a contract when other city employees had taken furlough hours and pay cuts. He then turned and began to question Police Chief Kyle Fittro, who was in the audience, and was asked to stop by Council President Kim Riddell.
“You can address council, this is a city council meeting,” she said. “You cannot berate the police chief or be disrespectful.”
Honigford argued his right to ask questions and was invited to have coffee by Fittro.
Council also passed the transfer of $52,000 each from the Income Tax Fund to the OWDA Fund and the Water Fund to the Water Improvement Fund to cover interest assessed by DEFA and the OWDA for the deferred loan payments in December. Auditor Tom Jettinghoff explained the two entities were asking for capitalized interest.
The next regular council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 6.