Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis said Canton is taking advantage of township residents by calling Plain Township ambulances to respond to city residents far more often than Canton ambulances assist township residents.
Township Trustee Louis Giavasis said Tuesday night that Canton is not holding up its end of the township’s and city’s mutual-aid relationship.
He said this after Township Fire Chief Don Snyder presented statistics at the regular trustees’ meeting. Snyder said that between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28, township ambulances went into Canton to help residents needing medical assistance 47 times because Canton ambulances were not available. In return, the Canton Fire Department sent trucks to the township four times during that period to assist Snyder's department in battling fires. Snyder said a Canton ambulance may have responded to one medical call in Plain Township during those three months when a township ambulance wasn't available. (Information has been changed to correct on error at 12:20 p.m. 3/14/13. See correction at end of story.)
Snyder said that an ambulance run can cost $465 to $700. The township bills the resident being transported or the resident’s insurer. However, Medicaid or the insurer often will not reimburse the total cost, and often the resident doesn’t have the ability to pay. Snyder said as part of the township’s mutual aid agreement with Canton, the city is not obligated to reimburse the township for any unpaid amounts for calls into Canton.
Giavasis claimed Canton Mayor William J. Healy II, due to the city’s budget situation, has substantially cut Canton fire staffing to the point the city is relying on the township to make up for gaps in coverage.
“This has to change,” Giavasis said. “Our taxpayers aren’t Canton’s EMS service. These numbers are starting to get very big. Our taxpayers are starting to be taken advantage of here.”
He said Canton was annexing parts of Plain Township, promising city services to the annexed areas and yet depending on the township to supplement its ambulance services.
“I don’t think the mayor of the city is considering the burden he’s putting on his people (in the fire department) and the communities around him,” Giavasis said.
Giavasis said he is not asking for Canton to pay the township. But he would like Canton to respond to more calls in the township.
Snyder said he would raise the issue with Canton Fire Chief Stephen Rich. Trustee Scott Haws suggested a joint meeting with Canton council members.
Healy’s cellphone number was disconnected, and he could not immediately be reached.
Separately, the trustees voted 3-0 to override the township Zoning Commission’s denial of the trustees’ request to change the zoning of its former Fire Station 2 on Harrison Avenue NW from residential to suburban office. The trustees have a contingent agreement to sell the 0.35-acre property to USA International Procurement Agency for a price they did not disclose Tuesday if the zoning change is approved.
Page 2 of 2 - Township Planning, Zoning and Development Director Dennis Fulk said it’s unlikely any bank would finance a purchase of the building as a residence. And it can’t be affordably converted into a community center because it would need ramps and a new elevator to comply with ADA requirements. There’s inadequate parking to make it a church. The township would continue to incur maintenance costs if it doesn’t sell the property.
Haws said demolishing the building wouldn’t make fiscal sense because of the cost of demolition. And then the township might get $20,000 for the lot.
Lauren Harper, 68, who lives next door to the fire station, attended the meeting in opposition to the zone change. He said he wants to preserve the residential character of the neighborhood.
“It wasn’t built to be a business,” he said. After the trustees’ vote, Harper said, “How do you fight city hall?”
“Is this the first domino (to the street becoming a business district)?” asked Joe Benner, 51, who lives on 41st Street NW. “That’s my question.”
The trustees also approved establishing zoning districts for Internet cafes.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an inaccurate figure of how many times Plain Township ambulances went into Canton between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28. The number is 47. An earlier version also gave inaccurate information describing the Canton Fire Department's response to incidents in Plain Township. The Canton Fire Department sent fire trucks to Plain Township four times between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28 to help the township fight fires, the township fire department said. The city may have sent one ambulance to Plain Township in response to a medical call during that period.