Officials with the city of Hillsboro and the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District agreed in recent days on a short-term contract extension for the first three months of 2018 until Hillsboro City Council ratifies a longer deal, most likely for three years.
The city’s latest contract with Paint Creek was set to expire at midnight Dec. 31, although fire district officials said they would not leave the city without coverage.
Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie said Saturday that Paint Creek had agreed to a three-month contract extension, a deal pro-rated based on the amount of a full-year deal. Technically, the contract is for a month at a time, which keeps the amount under the $50,000 contract limit which can be entered into by the administration without council approval.
Council President Lee Koogler had last week also suggested such an arrangement as a short-term fix until council gives its stamp of approval to the full deal.
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said last week that ultimately the contract extension would be for three years under the same provisions as past contracts, meaning the city will pay the equivalent of the 5.5 mill property tax that is levied on townships that are members of the district.
That amount has been in the neighborhood of $550,000 to $570,000 per year, depending on how the millage is configured each year for the townships. The city pays for its contract from the general fund.
At its December meeting, city council held the first reading of legislation to join Paint Creek as a member, a move which, if approved, would impose the additional property tax similar to that paid by the townships. But the pending contract extension appears to put that effort on hold, although Koogler said that even if the city contracts for three years it could decide to join the district at any time.
Hastings and Dan Mathews, president of the Paint Creek board, agreed last week that a contract deal for continued coverage appears to be close, as well as a deal on the sale of the fire station, although Mathews stressed in both cases that approval by the full Paint Creek board is necessary. City council would also need to approve the deal.
Under the proposed deal for Paint Creek to officially acquire the newer fire station, the old fire station in uptown Hillsboro that was initially occupied by Paint Creek in 2012 would end up owned by the city in a swap that would reduce the price of the new station.
Hastings and Mathews both said that each side has agreed to accept the appraised value of both the new and old fire stations as they negotiate the deal.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @AbernathyGary.