Fire contract on hold for negotiations

Burton Village Council put its contract renewal with the Burton Fire Department on hold last week to allow for further negotiations.

Council had legislation prepared to renew a one-year contract with the fire department with a 5 percent increase. Fire officials had sought a 7 percent increase.

Mayor-elect Ruth Spanos asked Burton Fire Chief Brian Wendl whether the department would be amenable to a two-year contract.

Chief Wendl asked, “What do you have to offer?”

Mrs. Spanos said the village would be willing to do a 7 percent increase in the contract with the increase covering both years.

Chief Wendl said he would take the offer back to the department’s board of trustees for consideration.

The village currently pays $178,549.56 for fire and emergency services.

Commissioners approve levy renewal

Geauga County voters will be asked to renew a 1-mill, five-year levy to support services for senior citizens.

Geauga County Commissioners last week voted unanimously to approve the renewal levy for the March 17 primary ballot.

Kathy Petrella, assistant director for the county’s department on aging, said the levy provides approximately 80 percent of the agency’s funding. She told commissioners she was unsure of the amount of money generated by the levy.

Commissioner Timothy Lennon said this is a good time to assess how those monies are being used. He said there may be areas where costs can be reduced.

Gerald Morgan, county administrator, said the agency is seeing an increase in the need for services and charges fees for those who can afford it. He said financial evaluations are conducted.

Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri said he would like to investigate purchasing buildings to use for senior centers, rather than continue to lease the spaces.

Taxpayers could pay more

Geauga County Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri questioned Tuesday whether combining levies for the Geauga County Job and Family Services agency is better than having them separated.

The question arose as Craig Swenson, director of job and family services, came seeking a resolution declaring a 0.5-mill levy a necessity and placing it on the March 17 ballot. The levy generates approximately $1.5 million.

Mr. Spidalieri asked whether it would be better to combine the 0.5-mill levy with the agency’s other 0.7-mill levy.

Mr. Swenson said it is better to preserve the 0.7-mill as a separate levy, because taxpayers will only pay more if the two are combined.

He said there may come a time when the two could be combined and reduced; however, the agency must be able to respond when unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the opioid epidemic, which he said, “blew up the budget.”

Mr. Swenson said that resulted in an increasing number of children placements, another variable that continues to cause the budget to be drained.

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