Sugarcreek Township trustees and administration have been working with the City of Centerville for nearly six years to put a plan into place for fire service coverage for the new Cosco shopping center, to no avail. But, three days before opening of Cosco, the City of Centerville proposed a tax incentive agreement, which Sugarcreek Township rejected Monday night.
In 2006, the City of Centerville annexed a portion of Sugarcreek Township through a Type II annexation process, which is the land where Cosco has been built and formally known as the “Dille” property. Because of the annexation and the fact that Centerville does not have a fire station, Sugarcreek Township was left with the responsibility to provide fire and EMS services to the area, for an agreed fee. Throughout the years, the Township and the City of Centerville have not been able to agree on a fair and reasonable fee.
Three days prior to Cosco opening, the City of Centerville offered a proposal that would “provide funding to the Township for fire and EMS services for 5% of the local and vocational schools district share of the “Service Payments derived from the parcels (other than any residential parcels)”, according to resolution #2014.11.17.07.
“On that property, a fire department would normally receive approximately $230,000 plus a year and they are asking us to operate it at $85,000. That is not fair and equitable to the other citizens and business owners in this community,” said Township Administrator, Barry Tiffany. “Also, as a business standpoint, it’s not smart business to operate a business in the red for 30 years.”
It is projected that the Cosco shopping center will generate between 25-30% of the call log for the Fire and EMS departments, with car accidents, medical emergencies and other incidents.
In a resolution, presented at the Sugarcreek Township meeting, “The Board of Trustee hereby rejects the “Township Tax Incentive Agreement” as proposed by the City of Centerville as not being in the best interest of the residents of Sugarcreek Township.” The township rejected the proposal for the following reasons:
1) The amount of funding proposed is inadequate to provide the level of Fire and EMS protection services that is anticipated in a portion of the annexed territory due to the increased traffic and persons living and conducting business in the area.
2) Sugarcreek Township has a fully and lawfully executed TIF in place and filed with the Greene County Auditor’s Office and the State of Ohio Department of Development that will remain in place until such time that the project costs from the TIF project are reimbursed to the Township from TIF proceeds, or until the Board of Trustees rescinds the TIF.
3) The proposed amount being offered is being subtracted from annual payments to the Board of Education and this Board of Trustees feels the amount is more advantageous to the schools at this time.
“The bottom line is, we have to get paid for the services we provide,” Trustee, Nadine Daughtery said.
By agreeing to such a proposal, the township would essentially be agreeing to take a loss for the next thirty years and would be forced to put a fire levy on the ballot, asking the residents to make up for the difference to essentially cover the loss of supporting the Cosco shopping center.
“This does not mean that we want to discontinue talks with Centerville,” Trustee, Michael Pittman said. “This means that we agree to reject the proposal they sent to us.”
While Trustees, Scott Bryant and Nadine Daugherty agree with Mr. Pittman, the board devised a plan to move forward. The board will be proposing a designation of a fire district t o be effective on February 1, 2005.
The township drafted out a map showing the areas that the Fire Department and EMS department would cover in the area of Sugarcreek. Because the Sugarcreek Township Fire Department and EMS falls within the guidelines of Ohio Revised Code §505.37(c), the township is well within their rights to create a fire division.
“If Washington Township or Kettering wants to provide fire services to this area, that’s fine with me,” said Trustee, Scott Bryant. “If they feel they can do it for $85,000 a year, then that’s great. Unfortunately, we need more money than $85,000 a year.”
By setting a fire district, the City of Centerville may very well be forced to contract out fire and EMS services since they do not have a fire department of their own, leaving it open for other fire departments to bid on the contract; and Sugarcreek Township plans on doing just that, if the need arises and an agreement has not been reached by February 1, 2015.
“This is not about not providing services. We want to make sure that the public is protected and that we are providing good services. We all know that our chief is very committed to that,” Tiffany said. “We have mutual aid agreements with everyone around us, but this is bad business.”
“We need adequate funding to provide services. It’s very important to know that when things are built, police and fire are the ones servicing them. It takes money to provide those services,” Sugarcreek Township Fire Chief, Randall Pavlak said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve always had a level of excellence in the township and the residents have stood behind the police, fire and roads and services. I don’t think this should be any different. Centerville offers a high level of service and I don’t know why they wouldn’t want us to have the same.”
For more information, contact Sugarcreek Township or attend the next scheduled Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, December 1 at 7 p.m. in the Sugarcreek Township Administration building.