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June 11, 2013

Lockport Township Board continues to move toward 15-year fire protection service agreement with City of Three Rivers Fire Department

Lockport Township Hall sign

The Lockport Township Board is continuing to move toward signing a 15-year fire protection service agreement with the City of Three Rivers Fire Department (TRFD), beginning in 2014.

In keeping with unanimous action during their May 13th meeting to accept a three-point proposal from Three Rivers, board members agreed Monday evening (June 10th) to move ahead with development of a contract for the Three Rivers Fire Department (TRFD) to serve the western portion of the township.  Township Clerk Wayne Timm and Trustee Mark Major were designated to represent the township in negotiations with city officials toward that end.

The consensus to continue moving in that direction came after unanimous approval of a motion to NOT accept an alternative 5-year contract offer put forth by the Fabius-Park Fire Department (FPFD) Fire Board several days after the May meeting.

The proposal from Three Rivers contained the following points:

  • 15-year Service Agreement
  • $200,000 Capital Stipend to be applied toward the purchase of a pumper-tanker and a brush truck, with the City of Three Rivers covering the remaining balance from funds requested to replace the 1985 Ford/Pierce pumper
  • $87,000 annual service payment, with a 4 percent annual increase to be designated to capital improvements and the residual between annual capital purchases and the service agreement reserved as designated fund balance for Fire Capital.

The ‘counter-proposal’ from the FPFD Fire Board was to continue fire protection in the same territory now being covered for five years at a fixed rate of $80,000 per year, identical to the rate currently in effect under a two-year contract set to expire next year.

Former Trustee Dannie Bloom suggested that Lockport Township Board representatives talk with Three Rivers officials about the ‘four percent annual increase’ provision in the city’s fire protection service agreement proposal.

One of the points likely to come in for conversation in the contract talks between city and township officials is the ‘4 percent annual increase’ provision.  Former Lockport Township Trustee Dannie Bloom endorsed the idea of having township representatives negotiate with city representatives to “see if there’s any flexibility in the numbers.”  He said, “The reason I say that is that, if I’m not incorrect, it’s four percent per year increase all the way through 15 years and that turns out to be compound interest.  . . .  That, alone, makes a big difference as far as I’m concerned.  . . .  It might help the township a lot if you could at least talk to them and see if there isn’t another table, another schedule of interest, they could use instead of just saying four percent every year all the way through.  It might save the township a lot of money.”   In view of discussion about the idea of forming a ‘fire authority’, Bloom also suggested “some sort of language ought to be in this contract having to do with ‘outs’.”

The Three Rivers City Commission voted unanimously last week in favor of the proposed agreement for the City of Three Rivers Fire Department to provide fire protection service to the western portion of Lockport Township for a 15-year period beginning next year.

Indications are that the eastern portion of Lockport Township will continue to be served through a contract with the Centreville Fire Department.

For some additional insights regarding the fire protection service agreement issue, click on the following link to hear a brief post-meeting interview with Township Supervisor Ray Signorello, recorded by Bruce Snook of the River Country JournalRay Signorello interview (1:11).

In addition to conducting its regular monthly meeting Monday evening, the Lockport Township Board also held its ‘annual meeting’ during which it decided to continue holding its regular meetings on the second Monday at 7 p.m. in the township hall at Holtom and South River roads, established depositories for township funds, approved appointments to various boards, and adopted the 2013-2014 budget.  The budget includes a pay increase for Township Assessor Jaime Hutson from $21,252 to $22,500.  Hutson requested an upward adjustment, something that hasn’t happened since 2008.


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