Tri-Village News

Question of shared fire protection resurfaces

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Grandview Heights City Council members held their annual working retreat and goal-setting meeting Saturday, Feb. 8, and identified a list of major issues council should explore in 2014.

The list included a suggestion by Councilman Milt Lewis that council reconsider consolidation of Grandview's fire department or a shared fire-service agreement with another municipality.

"We ought to explore whether there's potential to share that service across municipalities and see if there would be cost savings," Lewis said.

Councilman Ed Hastie said he has come 180 degrees on the issue and now believes the city should maintain its own fire department.

The issue was raised several years ago by former council member Steve Von Jasinski, and Hastie said he never saw any information that indicated the city would save money by sharing fire services with another community.

"I shudder giving others control over a large part of our budget," he said.

The issue has come up several times during his more than two decades as an elected official, Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

"We can put together the numbers any time you want," he said. "It is cheaper for us to run our own department."

The issue was front and center during the last mayoral campaign, when Von Jasinski challenged him, DeGraw said.

Residents made clear to him at that time they want Grandview to run its own fire department, he said.

"I believe the community strongly supports it. The one ballot issue I believe would surely pass would be to fund a new fire station," DeGraw said. "Residents want it here."

Shared fire services would not necessarily mean the fire station would move out of Grandview, Lewis said.

The likelihood is that Grandview's station would be closed in the event of a consolidation because it is an older facility, DeGraw said.

Grandview also would face the likely loss of the service contract with Marble Cliff if it could not provide fire service to the village, he said. That would mean a loss of about $500,000 in revenue each year.

Lewis said he still believes the issue should be studied.

"It's a topic that warrants discussion" to see if the city could save substantial money, he said.

Hastie asked that any information from past reviews of the issue be presented to council.

Other council goals for 2014 include:

* Consider hiring a part-time employee who would compile and post city news and information on the city's website and through social media.

* Look for a solution to remove from the flood plain all property owners on Goodale Boulevard.

* Review potential funding options for water and sewer improvements.

* Participate in the process to revise the residential zoning code.

* Conduct a study of the city's facility needs, including the Municipal Building and fire station.

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