A contract for Norwich Township's fire department and emergency medical dispatching services continues to be discussed with the city of Hilliard administration in letters and in meetings.

A contract for Norwich Township's fire department and emergency medical dispatching services continues to be discussed with the city of Hilliard administration in letters and in meetings.

Norwich trustee Larry Earman said the trustees were to meet with council members in an executive session yesterday after ThisWeek went to press.

The trustees sent Mayor Don Schonhardt a letter in December requesting a meeting about the dispatching contract, and during a recent special meeting, said Schonhardt had not responded.

On Jan. 14, Schonhardt sent a letter to the trustees that said the administration had begun discussions on the matter in 2009, and the contract was signed by the trustees Nov. 18, 2009.

Schonhardt wrote that during the previous arrangement for the dispatching services in 2003, "the Township offered to pay for upgraded dispatching equipment for use by the City of Hilliard and the Township, in exchange for a credit against dispatching service costs."

This arrangement continued through last year, Schonhardt wrote, accruing a benefit of $1,296,000 to the township, since the city charged the township the cost of one dispatcher instead of the four that are needed, at a cost of $162,000 a year.

Schonhardt also wrote that "the City Administration agreed to pay the township 4.5 percent interest on its $6.4 million share of the facility cost" of the Joint Safety Services Building. He described those two actions "as a gesture of cooperation and support."

The letter closed by saying "that the cost of dispatching services charged to Norwich Township is wholly consistent with the cost of similar services provided to Washington Township by the City of Dublin."

At last week's Norwich Township trustees meeting, trustee Mike Cope described Schonhardt's letter as "pretty prickly."

Earman wrote a letter to Schonhardt dated Jan. 18. In it, he wrote, "we thought some consideration should be given to lowering the charge. Going from zero cost to $250,000 per year is quite a bite for the township's finances. We firmly believe that dispatching contract was a vehicle to give back to the township some of the township's funds taken away by the city through tax increment financing and tax abatements."

Earman wrote the trustees are "astonished that the city feels the need to TIF residential developments.

In addition, Earman noted "that Dublin generally does not TIF or tax abate Washington Township's real estate taxes."

The letter closed by saying that Columbus can provide the dispatching services for $25,000 per year, and the Franklin County Sheriff's Department for $35,000 per year compared to Hilliard's $250,000 per year.