Swanton Village Council Tables Discussion on SFRD Evaluation Study

After briefly discussing at previous Council meetings and at the request of Mayor Toeppe, the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association (OFCA) submitted a proposal for an organizational evaluation study regarding the Swanton Fire & Rescue Department (SFRD). As the proposal outlines: All facets will be reviewed to determine operational and administrative efficiencies, internal division and community communication effectiveness, personnel development, compliance with local, state and federal law, and industry best practices. The study will determine the current level of service and future response needs of the community. All areas of review will include a focus on employee safety, safety of the public and risk management for the fire and rescue division and village.

Councilwoman Kathy Kreuz asked Mayor Toeppe to address the issue. “In looking at the fire service, the quality of the fire service employees, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics is excellent,” commented the Mayor. “The issue is, how do we look at ourselves going forward? Do we have the right amount of equipment, the right amount of training, the right policies in place, do we have the proper configuration of equipment, all those sorts of things? So, we asked the Fire Chiefs Association to take a look at the fire department’s policy operation and put together a plan or understanding of where we are and where we need to be going forward.” Mayor Toeppe said the study was similar to the one conducted several years ago by the Ohio Police Chiefs Association on the Swanton Police Department to make sure it was structured properly to prepare for the future.

Councilman Mike Rochelle then questioned what the study would look at with the possibility of the formation of a fire district that would include the fire departments of other municipalities. He said he was hesitant to spend $50,000 on a study with too many unknowns about the future status of local fire protection. “I’m a little hesitant. I think it’s a great idea to know understand where we are at today but I think there are a lot of things going on that I don’t know if that money is well spent,” said Mr. Rochelle. When it was explained to Mr. Rochelle that the cost of the study was $15,000 and not $50,000 he responded that his opinion did not change based on the dollars. “I don’t care if it’s $15 or $150 or $150,000,” he countered. “Do we know what our fire department is going to look like in five or ten years? If we do, then it’s money well spent.”

Mr. Rochelle asked Swanton Fire Chief Anthony Schaffer for his goals and objective for doing the study. “I’m not opposed to the study at all,” responded Chief Schaffer. “There was some conversation about doing a strategic plan that would be beneficial possibly versus this. This study may present itself as being the priority but if this study goes first the goals and objectives would be a different road map of what we’re missing or what the future would bring.” The discussion on the study continued without resolution and the Council agreed to table the issue until the next meeting.

In other news, the Council approved Emergency Ordinance 2021-01, authorizing the Village Administrator to enter into an agreement with Rupp Rosebrock to rebuild the Beard Pavilion at Memorial Park for $63,900. The Pavilion was destroyed by a falling oak tree in April of 2019. The selected bid was the lowest of eight bids submitted with the second lowest coming in at $81,500 and the highest at $135,000. Insurance is expected to cover this cost. The project is slated to begin this summer with an estimated completion date of late August.

Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle informed Council that the Village was unsuccessful in receiving Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) and Small Government funds for the Crestwood/Woodside Streets project. The hope was to receive funds to perform engineering in 2021 and construction in 2022. Ms. Hoelzle presented several “Plan B” options to the Public Service Committee, one of which was to split the project in two, Woodside and Crestwood. After some discussion, the Committee decided to split the project and selected the Woodside road repairs first. In 2019 the Woodside repairs were estimated at approximately $100,000. A new estimate will be requested. The Crestwood project was estimated at $706,000 in 2019. Another grant application to the OPWC will be submitted.

Council voted to vacate an alley between to Clark Street and Pennsylvania Avenue which is still a dedicated public way. Property owners at 105,.107,109,113 Pennsylvania and 210 Clark which abut the alley will be asked to file written consent if they do not dispute this action.

Fulton County Commissioners are looking to place a 4 Mil Fulton County EMS replacement levy on the May 2021 ballot. The intent would be for the subdivisions to still provide services and a lump sum is allocated for each subdivision.

The annual Swanton Fireworks Fest was tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 3, 2021.

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