At the Dec. 4 meeting of Powell City Council, residents of both Powell and Liberty Township packed City Hall to implore council members to take a stance against a proposal currently being reviewed by the Liberty Township Board of Trustees involving whether or not to hand Liberty Township’s EMS services over to Delaware County.
Council members responded to the public outcry with resounding support, making its intentions to oppose the controversial proposal very clear. On Tuesday night, council unanimously approved a resolution that officially declares that opposition expressed at the Dec. 4 meeting.
Among other things, the resolution highlights the reduction in services that would naturally stem from reducing the number of paramedics per unit from three to two if the township’s EMS were handed over to the county, as well as them not being cross-trained as the Liberty Township firefighter-paramedics are.
The resolution cites the lack of consideration for valuable opinions on the matter, such as those of Liberty Township Medical Director Dr. Warren Yamarick, who has repeatedly stated he has never been approached for input on the proposal.
Also included is the overwhelming support the residents have shown through the passage of a levy to keep EMS local. Seventy-eight percent of Powell residents and nearly 75 percent of Liberty Township residents voted to approve the levy in 2017.
While the resolution solidifies the City of Powell’s stance, it isn’t the first measure the city has taken to oppose what the county and township are considering.
In the days following the Dec. 4 meeting, Powell Law Director Gene Hollins sent a notice to Liberty Township officials suggesting that if they were to continue pursuing the transfer of EMS, the township would be defaulting the Cooperative Economic Development Agreement (CEDA) between them and the city.
The written notice points out that Liberty Township continuing to provide EMS and fire services played a large role in the city agreeing to the CEDA, which was approved in 2002.
“Clearly, Liberty Township continuing to provide fire and EMS services was a material inducement to the City to enter into the CEDA,” the notice states. “The Township provides no other significant services to taxpayers of the City.”
In addition to the details of the CEDA, Hollins urged the township and county to consider the fire levy approved with ease by voters in 2017, saying, “when Powell residents were asked to approve the 5.6-mill replacement levy, it was clearly represented that the township would be providing EMS services at this millage rate.”
The notice goes on to suggest that if the switch is made, any funds from the levy may be of “questionable legality.”
“Ceasing and desisting from further efforts to reduce or otherwise modify the current level of Fire and EMS services by the Liberty Township Fire Department in the city of Powell is hereby demanded to avoid default,” the notice closes.
The next chapter of this ongoing saga could take place as soon as Monday, Dec. 24, as Liberty Township trustees have called for a special meeting. The agenda for the meeting, which is scheduled for 9 a.m., has not been set, and it remains to be seen if EMS will be discussed.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.