Delaware County Emergency Medical Services personnel formerly housed in Genoa Township facilities have found a new home.

Delaware County Emergency Medical Services personnel formerly housed in Genoa Township facilities have found a new home.

Delaware County commissioners on March 21 approved an agreement that would let the county lease a suite at the Northgate Commercial Center at 7177 Northgate Way, in southern Genoa Township. It will house personnel previously housed at Genoa's fire station at 7049 Big Walnut Road.

The county has budgeted $60,000 to refurbish the space. The 10-year lease with RRH Ltd. requires the county to pay $4,000 per month in rent for the 4,000-square-foot space.

The new location is about two miles south of the previous Genoa site.

The county also is required to pay a variable fee for real estate taxes, insurance premiums, servicing, maintenance and repair costs, and utilities that aren't separately metered.

The new location will house nine full-time employees, with one crew of three paramedics onsite per day, EMS chief Rob Farmer said.

The staff will be responsible for the southern half of Genoa Township, though they respond countywide. Genoa's highest population density is in its southern section.

"The residents are going to be better served," Farmer said.

The county will operate EMS services in a temporary building until site improvements are complete. The temporary building will be leased from Pac-Van Inc. of Columbus for $4,500.

Farmer said he hopes improvements are finished within three to four months. The county would convert the empty storefront into a station, with a common area, three bedrooms, a dining area with a kitchen and a laundry facility. Two new bays will store vehicles.

"Now that the lease has been approved, we can finalize our negotiations with the architect. The range that we are working on is between $5,000 and $10,000," said county administrator Tim Hansley. This cost would be in addition to what the county budgeted for construction.

Commissioners originally tabled the lease agreement on March 17, citing concerns they had with the fee for utilities, taxes, insurance and assessments. Commissioners Ken O'Brien and Dennis Stapleton voted to table the item, with commissioner Tommy Thompson voting "no."

"I just basically felt comfortable with it the way it was written," Thompson told ThisWeek about the agreement. O'Brien voted against the lease agreement on March 21.

O'Brien told ThisWeek that he, Farmer, and assistant prosecutor Aric Hochstettler met with an RRH agent about the contract on March 17 following the meeting. RRH was unwilling to go with a fixed amount for tax and insurance fee, he said. "It was cordial, but frank," he said of the meeting.

During the March 21 meeting, Farmer told the commissioners that RRH would provide the county with invoices for the variable fee. "If it's less than that, we get money back. If it's more than that, we're accountable," he said of the amount.

O'Brien again mentioned his concern that the rates weren't fixed. "I am a proponent of the area and of this use but not of these terms," he said.

Stapleton expressed concern that Genoa taxpayers were paying for a duplication of services. Stapleton, a Genoa Township resident, said he remembered that the EMS and a Genoa Township Fire Department ladder truck had once both responded to an individual with a heart attack. "That's a classic case, I think, of a duplication in service," he said.

Farmer told ThisWeek the nature of the emergency call dictates if both the Genoa Township Fire Department and the county EMS respond. Generally, they will "overcompensate in the beginning," to avoid having to call for additional help after the fact.

Stapleton asked, "Is it possible for us to just stay out of Genoa Township?"

Farmer said Genoa had asked the county staff to leave the fire station only, and not the township. "One of the things that we're providing is uninterrupted EMS services," he said.

"I think it's the correct thing to do," Farmer said of maintaining countywide services.

O'Brien said Genoa taxpayers made a choice to add to their services. "I am a huge proponent of the countywide system," he said.

Genoa Township had housed three county EMS personnel per shift in its fire station at Galena since 2001. The county provided the crew's truck and equipment and the township provided room, board and sundry living items for the crews, township Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt said. The county paid the township $16,000 per year for housing the crews.

At their Sept. 1 meeting, Genoa Township trustees terminated the housing contract with the county.

"We've had to terminate our relationship because we're going to hire the people we need to hire and we have to have a place to house them," Honeycutt told ThisWeek.

In May 2010, township voters approved a five-year 4.7-mill fire levy which included funding for three additional firefighters per shift, a total of nine overall. The township previously had six firefighters per shift.

- Bonnie Butcher contributed to this story.