SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP — Township trustees Friday morning passed a resolution to place a fire district levy on the March ballot.
If passed by voters, a new fire district will be created in unincorporated parts of the township that will exclude the growing Cornerstone development, which houses several businesses and a Costco store. The 5.3 mills levy would be collected in 2016 and would go into effect the first quarter of 2017 according to Township Administrator Barry Tiffany.
At that time, fire and emergency medical services would no longer be provided to Cornerstone and any other incorporated parts of the township. Township residents will see a “seamless” transition to the new fire district, Tiffany said. It will come with no additional cost as well, he added.
Friday’s action is another in what’s become a long saga between Sugarcreek, Centerville and Oberer Companies.
The dispute, which has led to several lawsuits, is over how much the City of Centerville will pay the township for providing fire and EMS to the cornerstone, which is on Centerville-annexed land in the township. Centerville does not have its own fire department.
Township officials say Centerville is not offering to pay enough, which triggered the township’s first attempt at excluding the area from fire and EMS service, which occurred in November 2015.
Centerville officials and Oberer say the township had verbally agreed to the amount of funds that would be shared before ground was broken on the Costco store.
The sides met in court-ordered mediation and still could come to no resolution. Then in October the township passed a resolution of necessity for levying a tax and issued a statement.
“Over the past year, the board has worked diligently to find an agreeable solution with the City of Centerville for the provision of Fire and EMS services to the incorporated portion of the Township located in Centerville. After lengthy negotiations, it became apparent that Centerville would only accept an agreement that would result in our Citizens and existing businesses subsidizing the services to the incorporated area. Additionally, they wanted the Trustees to forego more than $1 million in future road funding. Our Citizens have made their opinions very clear on this and neither of these terms were acceptable to the Trustees,” the statement said.
Tiffany said discussions are ongoing with Centerville but due to the pending litigation could not comment further.
Centerville City Manager Greg Horn wasn’t optimistic as to whether continued discussions could be fruitful.
“Based on the past experience we’ve had with the trustees walking away from the negotiation table … it’s very questionable that any negotiations will be successful,” he said. “It’s disappointing to see them heading in this direction. This type of action will certainly have a negative effect.”
A representative from Oberer was at Friday’s meeting but had no comment.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.