The Fabius-Park Fire Department Fire Board has taken the first step toward a “buyout of Lockport Township” and its interest in the former Lockport-Fabius-Park Townships Fire Department.
During an hour-and-a-half special meeting Tuesday morning (September 15th), the Fire Board voted unanimously to accept Net Book Value figures prepared by Pat Burke of McLellan & Strohm in regard to the assets, liabilities and fund balance associated with the fire department that was operated by Lockport, Fabius and Park townships for 51 years. The figures reflect the balance sheet as of March 31, 2009 when the joint operation ended.
John Lohrstorfer, the attorney for the Fire Board, attended and agreed to draft a letter to formally report the action and the figures to the Lockport Township Board.
Paul Bungart, Lockport Township treasurer and the township’s liaison to the Fire Board, was on hand for the meeting as were Trustee Dannie Bloom, Clerk Wayne Timm, and Annie Signorello, wife of Lockport Township Supervisor Ray Signorello. Several members of the Park Township Board – in addition to those who serve on the Fire Board – were also in the audience.
Acceptance of the figures was characterized as the first step in a process to resolve ownership and asset distribution issues associated with dissolution of the joint department.
The meeting – sometimes with spirited dialogue – yielded a consensus to use the amount paid by each of the townships for the Broadway Road property on which the new fire station is located as the basis for the value associated with the property. There was also agreement to consult with Elwin Ruggles of Century 21 Arrowhead Real Estate for guidance in determining the value for the old fire station, three houses and a vacant lot on Millard Road that are owned jointly by all three townships. Ruggles is working with the Fire Board in efforts to sell the properties.
A key document in efforts to resolve the ownership and asset distribution issues is the Interlocal LFP Fire Department Agreement signed by the supervisors and clerks of all three townships on August 20, 2007. The last two paragraphs in the Property and Fire Station section of the agreement say:
“In the event of the dissolution of the joint fire department for any cause or reason, all property, both real and personal, of the Fire Department shall be divided equally between the three participating Townships based upon the book value of said property, if available; or, if not available, based upon the mutual agreement of the three respective Township Boards accomplished within a 30 day period of such dissolution date; or, where not successful, by arbitration under the terms of paragraph 10 hereof.
“If any one of the aforementioned participating Townships wishes to withdraw from the within joint fire department, one-third of the book value of the property, real and personal, of the Fire Department, shall be distributed to the withdrawing Township where such book value is available. Where such book value is not available, said distribution shall be based upon the afore-mentioned method of distribution in the event of dissolution of the Fire Department. Such distribution may be in money, in services, and/or in equipment and property; and, if in money, may be payable over such period of time as is determined within the reasonable financial ability of the Fire Department and the remaining two Townships.”
The three-township arrangement for the fire department came apart last year after Lockport Township voters on three occasions rejected proposals for funding the township’s share in the cost of the new fire station that went into service early this year.
Editor’s Note: This story was modified at 4:01 a.m. 9-16-09 to add a second paragraph from the Interlocal Agreement.