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Lisbon fire contract to stand

LISBON — The village and Center and Elkrun townships have decided to put off any talks on a new fire service contract until the appropriate time.

Council member Jerry Cox reported at this week’s council meeting all the parties agreed to take up the issue a year from now when the existing service contract comes up for renewal. They reached this conclusion after the trustees submitted a proposal and council’s safety committee submitted a counter-proposal.

“We decided to leave the contract in full force until the end of next year,” he said, adding it is counter-productive to reopen negotiations in the middle of a contract.

The townships contract with the village for fire department services, with the parties splitting most costs three ways. The ink had barely dried on the new two-year agreement that took effect in January when the trustees balked at being asked to share in the cost of purchasing $15,000 in firefighter turnout gear. The purchase was finally approved several months later, but the township trustees made it known they wanted to reopen negotiations.

Cox said the townships in essence just want to pay a flat fee to the village instead having to share operation and equipment costs. He believes the townships should continue to pay a portion of those expenses because this would give the townships “some skin in the game.”

“Why would we want to take 100 percent (financial) responsibility … We’re not gaining anything,” said Cox, who is chairman of the council safety committee.

In related news, council approved Cox’s recommendation they purchase a first response vehicle for the fire department at a cost of $138,000.

“This is a piece of equipment the fire department feels is absolutely necessary, and I agree,” he said.

Mayor Peter Wilson said when voters passed a fire levy in 2018 it was for the expressed purpose of purchasing a new fire truck, and he believes that should be the top priority.

“I realize priorities change, but we told the voters,” he said.

Cox reminded Wilson that at their Nov. 10 meeting Cox suggested they use levy funds to purchase both the first response vehicle and a refurbished fire truck for $235,000, but their fiscal officer felt uncomfortable doing so simultaneously. She suggested purchasing one and then determining if they can afford to purchase the other.

“We need to move forward with what the (fire department) needs immediately” and fire officials agree the first response vehicle is their top priority, he said.

The multi-purpose first response vehicle will carry the Jaws of Life extrication device, come with a winch and capable of carrying 300 gallons of water. It is supposed to be the first vehicle on the scene of a fire or accident and can begin providing some fire suppression until the slower fire trucks arrive.

Council also added Michael A. Branch of Lisbon to the firefighter roster. Branch served on the department before and is a lieutenant with the Hanover Township Fire Department.

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