Franklin Township eyes fees for frequent fire, EMS calls

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published:

Franklin Township trustees are considering a move that could cost residents and business owners a bundle if Kent firefighters are frequently called to their property.

Under the proposed resolution, which will be discussed at the Franklin trustees’ Nov. 27 meeting, the township would charge a fee to property owners if:

• the Kent Fire Department responds to more than three false alarms at a property in one calendar year.

• the department responds to more than one report of unauthorized burning on a property in one calendar year.

• the department makes more than five emergency medical service runs to one business or a housing complex with R-4 multi-family residential zoning in one calendar year.

The township contracts for fire and emergency medical services through Kent, which currently charges the township $1,156.50 for every service run.

Under the new proposal, the township would charge the full cost of the run to property owners for every unauthorized burning on the property after the first incident and charge the full cost minus any insurance reimbursements for any medical service runs to commercial properties in excess of five.

The township would charge $300 for every false alarm after the third at one site, which is the maximum charge allowed for false fire alarms under state law.

Franklin Township administrator Ken Penix said the trustees first discussed the resolution while looking for ways to defray the township’s fire and emergency medical services costs, which have risen sharply over the past few years due to increased calls for service.

“The proposal will drive down our net costs and allow us to absorb these increased runs,” Penix said.

Penix said the township received $438,917 in total billings from the city last year for fire and medical service, up more than $25,000 compared to billings from 2010 and up more than $87,000 compared to 2009.

Penix said the proposal would not charge any additional fees to individual homeowners who make more than five 911 calls for emergency medical services because township officials do not want sick or injured residents to avoid seeking help because they fear the costs.

“If people feel like they need an ambulance, they ought to call,” Penix said. “We don’t want to have any impact on that at all.”

Penix said he believed the poor economy in recent years may be to blame for the increasing calls for service in Franklin Township. He said residents who lost jobs and health insurance may be depending increasingly on emergency medical services because they can not regularly meet with a doctor.

Although township officials do not blame excessive false alarms and unauthorized burns for the increase in service calls, Penix said the proposal singles those areas out because they can be used to raise funds without charging extra for medical services to any residents.

The Franklin Township Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 27 to discuss the proposed resolution. Until then, residents can view the proposal at the Franklin Township Hall Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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