November 21, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
21°F

Medina, townships hear info on fire district

By CASSANDRA SHOFAR
Staff Writer

MEDINA TWP. — A fire district may or may not be what’s best for the city of Medina and Medina, Montville and York townships, but that’s to be decided.

The four entities joined together Tuesday night at Medina Township Hall to listen to presentations by two consulting agencies that specialize in consolidating services, such as fire services.

The crowd included township trustees, Mayor Jane Leaver, City Finance Director Keith Dirham, city council members including Council President Cindy Fuller, fire chiefs and employees from all four entities and some interested community members.

“We want to bring the best possible service at the best possible cost,” said Medina Township Trustee Rita Holt. “We’re looking down the road for the next 10 to 15 years and if we want to make a move, we better do it soon.”

She added a district may not benefit everyone or it may, but they’ll never know unless they sit down and discuss it.

Currently Montville contracts its fire service with the city, Medina Township has a memorandum of understanding with the city for daytime staffing, and York Township is covered by Erhart Volunteer Fire Department.

The consultants — who included Mentor-based John D. Preuer and Associates Inc. and Emergency Services Consulting Inc., based in Wilsonville, Ore. — both gave PowerPoint presentations regarding what they can offer the city and townships through a study, recommendations and implementation.

John Preuer said challenges current fire services face involve increasing demands, limited fiscal resources, fewer volunteer firefighters and tougher requirements.

He added the city and townships are also growing steadily, and blending fire services can “improve efficiency and effectiveness, (provide) better use of limited resources, reduce duplicate efforts, permit specialized and dedicated programs, (have) greater staff flexibility and capability, and improve service at an overall lower cost.”

Both consultants said there are various options and degrees of blending services.

The consultants would first do a feasibility study to determine what, if anything, works best for the townships and city.

Emergency Services Consultant John Best said the two questions they would answer are, can we deliver current levels of service at a reduced cost, or deliver improved services at a similar cost?

“If you can’t do either of these things, then don’t change and we’ll tell you that,” he said, adding the feasibility study would involve a baseline audit and an analysis of options.

Preuer said the study would take roughly four months to do and cost between $25,000 and $30,000 to perform, with an extra $4,000 if the community is involved because it extends the process and includes scheduling more public meetings.

Medina Township Trustee Michael Todd said the next step is having each interested entity get feedback from their respective constituencies and then all meet up again next month to decide what their next step is.

“We’ll come back together as political bodies and talk of the scope of services, the cost of services … and where we go from here,” he said.

Holt added they will also figure out who wants to participate and discuss sharing the cost of a study if they decided on one.

The next meeting is scheduled tentatively for 7 p.m. June 2 at Medina Township Hall.

Shofar may be reached at 330-721-4044 or cshofar@ohio.net.