Sugarcreek creates new fire district

SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP — Township trustees have created a new fire district that will exclude property in the City of Centerville, specifically the ever-growing Cornerstone development.

The move, which came during a regular board meeting Monday, is the latest in the battle between the two entities regarding fire and emergency medical service for that area.

Through court-ordered mediation and the exchange of multiple proposals, the two sides could not agree on how much Centerville would pay for the township to provide fire and EMS. Negotiations date back to 2006.

“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,” the township said in a news release. “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.”

The new district would not take until 2017 and is contingent on voters passing a levy in March. If the 5.3 mills levy passes, the trustees would terminate the existing fire department levies, reducing millage 30 percent and lowering the amount of property tax collected by approximately $100,000, according to Township Administrator Barry Tiffany.

“Which is really good for our residents,” he said.

The incorporated portion could be included in the future if the two sides can work out an agreement.

“We’re willing to listen to what they have to say,” Tiffany said. “Right now we’re done talking about the same thing over and over again.”

Centerville will need to figure out how to provide fire and EMS to the excluded areas if the levy passes.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” City Manager Greg Horn said. “We think it’s a very reckless, irresponsible act. This will impact shoppers in that area, this will impact employees in that area, it will impact motorists. Quite frankly, it could affect Sugarcreek Township residents.”

Horn said the city will continue to evaluate all legal and service options.

There are still some federal lawsuits pending, which were originally filed by the developer.

“We don’t know that it will change anything,” Tiffany said of the litigation.”We’ll see.”

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.