UNION CITY, OHIO — City council members approved contracts, paid bills, and heard concerns relating to the failed MARCS levy at their monthly meeting Monday night.
The council had previously approved a contract with J.J. Sargent Farms to work 133 acres of farmland owned by the city, at a price of $220 per acre. At this week’s meeting council members approved an amendment to that agreement, proposed by Jason Sargent, which extends the length of the contract to four years, as well as altering a key requirement that Sargent apply fertilizer evenly across the entire property.
“Modern practice is to do a grid sampling,” Sargent said. “Instead of just taking one random soil sample to determine the amount of fertilizer needed, you break the property up into a grid and take a sample from each area, then apply the right amounts of fertilizer accordingly.”
Union City Police Chief Mark Ater addressed the council about expenses related to the upcoming MARCS transition. The levy, if passed, would have funded transition to the new emergency communication system for most police, fire, and EMT agencies in the county, but in light of the levy’s failure, individual agencies and villages will have to absorb a considerable amount of those costs.
“We haven’t met and discussed everything in detail,” Ater said. “But there’s going to be a lot of expenses.”
While the county has agreed to pay two years’ worth of user fees on the MARCS-compatible radios donated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, at a cost of $12 per radio (per month), the cost of additional equipment, as well as the expense of replacing the donated radios once they fail, will fall to the city. If Union City first responders fail to upgrade to MARCS-compatible equipment, they may be unable to communicate with other emergency, medical, and law enforcement agencies throughout Darke County, leaving the city potentially cut off during an emergency.
“After that, we’re on our own,” Ater said. “We need to figure out how we’re going to afford all that for both the police and the fire department. Any way you look at it, it’s going to be a lot of money we’re going to have to shuffle out.”
The council also voted to receive letters of interest regarding two council seats due to become vacant in January 2018; to place police Sergeant Jeffrey Turner on the city’s health insurance plan; and to accept an application for EMT/Firefighter, pending successful background checks. The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
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