Piqua Commissioners, residents debate increase in fire service costs


By Eamon Baird

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PIQUA — Piqua City Commissioners and residents of Piqua and Washington Township debated the issue of the proposed 115% increase in the township’s cost for fire services provided by the city of Piqua at the Piqua City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

On Thursday, Jan. 11, Washington Township held a meeting at the Washington Township Building on South College Street in Piqua to discuss this proposed increase.

In 2023, Washington Township paid Piqua approximately $109,000 for fire services provided by the city of Piqua. Piqua now seeks $241,000 for the services for 2024.

Tim Eschemann, of Washington Township, asked the proposed change be spread over three years to help with the burden of township residents.

“Are there any other options to increase the contract over a longer period of time? I mean $115% it’s giant for people out there. To do this all in one year at such a giant increase, that’s too much,” Eschemann said.

Eschemann also expressed concern for response of Washington Township residents time if the levy isn’t passed.

“This could be a matter of life or death,” Eschemann said.

Jon Wheelock, another resident of Washington Township, expressed frustration there was no representation from the city of Piqua at the meeting on Jan 11.

Members of the Piqua Commission said they weren’t invited to the Washington Township meeting on Jan. 11, and Mayor Kris Lee said he watched it online.

“We’re having a misunderstanding, and we’ve got to get this figured out,” Wheelock said.

Residents of Piqua said it was unfair for them to be paying for fire service in Washington Township.

“My mom lives in Washington Township. I want her to have Piqua Fire, but I shouldn’t be paying for it. ‘As Piqua citizens, why are we subsidizing fire for the county? They should be paying for it,’” Adam Seas said.

Ward Five Commissioner Frank DeBrosse asked City Manager Paul Oberdorfer how much residents of Piqua were paying for fire and EMS services, compared to residents of Washington Township.

“Do you have any idea how much the average citizen of the city of Piqua pays for police and fire services?” DeBrosse asked Oberdorfer.

Oberdorfer said residents of Piqua pay an average $313 per resident for fire and EMS services per year. Washington Township currently pays $78.34 per resident per year.

“How the hell did they get such a good deal?” DeBrosse added.

Oberdorfer said he was meeting with a Washington Township Trustee on Wednesday, Jan. 17, to negotiate a new contract set for March 31. However, if progress is being made between both parties, the deadline could be extended.

“When you look at public safety, we’re obligated to the citizens of Piqua and we have outstanding services that are exceptional, I’ve experienced them myself,” Oberdorfer said. “We extended those services under contract to the townships and to pull that back in without any notice or negotiations, to me is a disservice to the greater community.”

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