After reading the coverage of the recent meeting of Middleport council, I feel I must clear up a few points concerning business in regard to the Middleport Fire Department. Doug Dixon stated, “I am not in favor of actually reimbursing a year back for something we want to pass at this time.” What he didn’t say was that I personally went to council at their regular meeting on August 8, 2016 and requested council put something in place to help offset costs associated with being a volunteer firefighter incurred by individual members. I explained how this could help with firefighter recruitment and retention, a problem that all volunteer fire departments are facing. I also asked that council try to have this in place by the beginning of 2017. Even though Dixon was a member of council at the time, he had no recollection of this. Contributing to the delay in presenting the ordinance was the inability of Salisbury Township trustees to accept a contract with the village for fire protection, which would provide the funding for this reimbursement. To date, the village is still waiting on contract money for all of 2017. The article also states that Dixon asked Solicitor Rick Hedges to review chapter 146 in the Ohio Revised Code as he said the chapter explains a volunteer firefighter cannot be paid because it, “is a non-paid and a non-partial paid,” position. What wasn’t reported is that Solicitor Hedges informed Dixon and members of council that the ordinance he was citing referred to the Volunteer Firefighters’ Dependents Fund, to which Dixon replied that he printed the wrong one out. As stated by Mayor Iannarelli, this reimbursement is not considered pay. Further examination of the CORRECT ordinance shows that the ORC definition of “Volunteer Firefighter” in the State of Ohio states: “A duly appointed member of a fire department on either a non-pay or part-pay basis who is ineligible to be a member of the Ohio police and fire pension fund, or whose employment as a firefighter does not in itself qualify any such person for membership in the public employees retirement system, or who has waived membership in the public employees retirement system.” I hope that this answers some of the questions that our village citizens, who have always been very supportive of our department, would surely have after reading this article.
Middleport Fire Chief