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Washingtonville approves fire pact with Green Township

WASHINGTONVILLE–Council members approved the third reading of an agreement with Green Township for fire and emergency medical services despite a petition from residents this week.

The agreement is for the township to provide coverage for the entire village, including the portion in Columbiana County which has previously been served by the Leetonia Fire Department.

Residents presented council with a petition requesting a continued contract with Leetonia and presented an agreement between Leetonia and Green Township consisting of $7,500 each.

“That’s more than we give,” Clerk Dale Davis said. “We get about $18,000 a year and we do pay other bills out of that.”

Solicitor Jeffery Heintz reminded council about his advice from the last meeting when he said he believes having two departments serving the village would pose logistical challenges.

“I don’t know but I think those were some of the things I raised concerns about — having two fire departments covering our village. I don’t know how that would work,” he explained.

Heintz discussed the current amounts the village is paying for emergency medical services. Green Township will provide services to the Columbiana County side for $9,005 per year. The village currently pays Leetonia $10,000 a year.

“I think what the two gentlemen are suggesting is that we pay $15,000 a year. I want to make sure council understands that,” Heintz said.

Council member Al Vignon believes both departments would require support.

“I think Leetonia should get some money,” he said.

Davis said funds exceeding the budget have been used to purchase supplies for both departments through the years.

“We have given money for hoses, helmets, anytime that it’s requested, if it’s available we are giving it to them, on both sides,” Council President Ron Stevens said.

Stevens reminded council that calling 911 is not going to work. Residents need to use a direct number.

“911 on Mahoning County side is useless anyway,” Mayor Herman Frank said.

Stevens reminded Frank calling 911 is not beneficial for either side. Both departments have mutual aid contracts with each other. The mutual aid contracts ensure residents will be covered for services despite who the village contracts with. The village needs to determine billing and emergency medical services.

A resident attending the meeting asked why residents did not use private ambulance services.

“We have different options available to us from our local fire departments that would save our residents money on an ambulance call,” said council member Peggy Frank. She explained private ambulance services are not guaranteed to soft bill.

“We are only paying $9,000. We can’t all of a sudden just start paying more,” said council member Erik Sobek. “We can’t jump from $9,000 to $15,000 just to have two.”

Green Township Fire Chief Todd Baird told council the department had one dropped call while maintaining full staffing between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Leetonia Fire Chief Larry Hephner Jr. noted the department had no dropped calls during the June audit.

“You can’t worry about making people upset, you gotta worry about what’s good for the whole village,” Mayor Frank said.

dgarner@mojonews.com

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