SHIPSHEWANA — Following a dispute with Shipshewana’s surrounding townships, the Town Council approved a new fire contract Thursday and awaits the signatures of Newbury, Van Buren, and Clay township officials on the revised pact. The deadline for the township officials to sign is March 12.
The action comes after a recent joint meeting between representatives of the town and the townships to work out a renewal of the Shipshewana Volunteer Fire Department’s mutual aid agreement. In a press release distributed Thursday, Sutter said township representatives present at the meeting predicted that their township trustees and advisory boards would support the proposed agreement.
The proposed budget for the fire department for 2014 is $124,500, with $114,500 of the cost to be split up among the town and the townships in the following manner: Shipshewana, 40 percent; Newbury Township, 40 percent; Van Buren Township, 17.5 percent; and Clay Township, 2.5 percent.
The press release states that the remaining $10,000 in revenue would be collected from payments from fire service calls. Any shortage would be collected from the townships according to the above percentages, and any amount collected in excess of $10,000 would be credited back to the townships by those same percentages.
The joint meeting was held after officials from all the townships signed a letter of complaint about the town’s earlier proposed contract and the council’s recent action to terminate Shipshewana’s fire protection agreement with Newbury and Clay, the only two not to sign, if they did not agree by Feb. 28.
The townships also disliked the council’s Jan. 23 decision to institute undetermined user fees, which could have been upward of $2,000 each, for fire or emergency medical service calls in Newbury and Clay in the absence of fire agreements.
The council terminated the mutual aid agreement because Newbury and Clay had refused to renew by the Jan. 17 deadline due to disenchantment with the amount of proposed fee hikes. Newbury was asked to pay $51,188 per year for firefighting services, Clay $3,083, and Van Buren Township $23,721. The current proposal calls for Newbury to pay $45,800 this year, Van Buren $20,037.50, and Clay $2,862.50.
In other business, the council set 3 p.m. March 20 for a special meeting with the stormwater board, redevelopment commission, and park board to discuss utility rates and a sustainability analysis.
Council members approved a Shipshewana Event Center food and beverage agreement with Riegsecker Marketplace.