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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Roulette Township Releases Statement On Negotiations For Fire & Ambulance Protection

ROULETTE TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS
80 Railroad Ave.
PO Box 253
Roulette, PA 16746-0253
(814) 544-7549 – Office
(814) 544-4044 – Fax
roulettwp@zitomedia.net

Thursday, March 03, 2011

PRESS RELEASE:

The Roulette Township Supervisors would like to release the following statement:

It has come to our attention that there are citizens of Roulette Township that are unaware of the current contract negotiations between the supervisors and the administrators of the Roulette Volunteer Fire Department.

It is not, and never has been, the intention of the supervisors to hide the facts regarding this issue. It has been a topic of discussion at the last 5 township meetings, as well as a couple of closed informal discussions.

It has also been determined that there are some that believe that a “closed informal discussion” that has been scheduled for 6PM on 03/07/2011 at the township office is a “meeting” and in violation of the Sunshine Act. This workshop is not a “meeting”, and there will be no formal decisions made by the supervisors at this workshop. This was intended to be another attempt by the supervisors to work out the details of the contract with the fire department prior to the regular meeting scheduled for 03/14/2011 at 6PM, where the supervisors will decide the outcome of the negotiations.

It seems that there is a general impression that the contract negotiations are about funding. In fact, this is far from the truth. The allocation of funding for the fire department for 2011 was agreed upon by both parties and voted upon by the supervisors at the January 3, 2011 organizational meeting.

This funding is to include the equivalent of 1.25 MIL or 42% of the assessed taxable property values for the township equaling a total of $21,431.88 paid directly to the fire department.

In addition to that, the supervisors agreed to continue paying the water and sewer bills for the fire department, an estimated average of $2000.00 for the year, as well as continue to provide the Workman’s Compensation Insurance coverage at a cost of $16,955.00 for the year.

This all equals a total of $40,386.88 or 2.36MIL expended by the township, from the General Fund, for the Volunteer Fire Department. This is an increase of $7,597.16 over what was expended last year for the same services.

Where the disagreement between parties comes into effect is over the wording of the actual contract itself, not over funding.

The fire department presented a modified contract to the supervisors for 2011 at the February 14, 2011 accompanied by a demand to sign it as is or they would be forced to cancel the existing contract and begin charging fees to the supervisors based on a Tioga County fee schedule.

The contract was resubmitted to our solicitor to review the changes and the following day we received a cancellation of the existing contract from the fire department. The supervisors did not cancel the existing contract, the fire department did. The supervisors did not issue an ultimatum, the fire department did.

The supervisors have secured alternate fire protection, in the event that an agreement cannot be reached prior to the deadline that was set by the fire department, but it is their hopes that those measures will not be necessary.

The supervisors have been negotiating in good faith and have been attempting to reach a mutually agreeable contract prior to the deadline. It is neither the intent, nor the desire, of the supervisors to “take over” or “replace” the fire department.

The solicitors for both agencies have been in contact with each other and it is still the supervisors hope and intent to resolve this issue prior to the deadline that was set by the fire department by their cancellation of the existing contract that they have been operating under to this point.

In the best interest of all involved, and to promote community involvement in the discussions, the supervisors are attempting to find an alternate location for this discussion that will have enough room to facilitate members of the community that wish to attend due to the limited size of the township office.

Once we have been able to verify the change, we will notify the fire department and the community of the change in the event that anyone should wish to attend and learn the facts of the negotiation process rather than to spin off on unfounded anonymous blog postings and assumptions.

UPDATE: The Roulette Volunteer Fire Department has agreed to facilitate the meeting Monday night 03/07/2011 at 6PM in the Bingo Hall. Anyone wishing to attend is encouraged to do so.

Sincerely,
The Roulette Township Supervisors.

22 comments :

Boo Hoo said...

BRAVO to the Twp Supervisors... To bad the fire dept didn't have the gumption to publicly address this issue... I guess the BAD Boys of Roulette are living up to thier name sake...

David M. Errick said...

So if the contract disagreement isn't about the funding levels, then what is it about? This press release spent alot of time talking about a topic that isn't really the issue (according to the press release)

Jonathan Huff said...

To quote the press relaes given "Where the disagreement between parties comes into effect is over the wording of the actual contract itself, not over funding."
It all boils down to a few sections, or portions thereof, of the contract that was presented to the supervisors, by the fire department, that contain non statutory language and conditions that are not permissable by law.

Anonymous said...

Once again the Roulette Chemical Hose Co. has taken the bull in the china shop approach to contract issues. Guess they didn't learn from their last round. Apparently those that are involved in the negotiations think that they are working with their daily employer and trying to use the same strong arm tactics they use there. Bad idea! And then they sit back and wonder why the public has become disconcerted with them. Wake up!

Anonymous said...

The fire dept. was not the ones that would not sit down and talk about things the supervisors are the ones that sent it to the lawyers. This was the same contract that they signed last year so why is it a problem now?

Anonymous said...

Way to bash the hard working volunteers that tactfully respond to put fires out at your mom's house or rush your sister to the hospital. They spend a lot of time to ensure that they have a good working company to take care of our community. Let this be between them and the "supervisors". As a community, we should support them both.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me. But I think everyone ought to come to the meeting and find out for yourself what is going on. The township painted the picture the way they wanted you to see it. If you come to the meeting you will then and only then, find out who you think are the "bad boys". I personally think there has been too much taken out of context. It is not just about wording it is about everything. Before you make judgement take the time to show your face at the meeting. Remember there shouldn't even have been an issue. This is a volunteer thing and they need funds to keep it going, so your insurance won't go up when you don't have one. Try being a volunteer firefighter or EMT just once in your life and see how it feels.

David M. Errick said...

John,
Could you please explain for me specifically what the disagreement is about? I understand your statement that the disagreement is about the "wording of the contract", however the wording of any contract ultimately communicates the requirements which both parties must abide by under the contract. Therefore it seems apparent that there is some requirement in the current contract which is disagreeable to the RVFD and likewise, there is some aspect of the modified contract submitted by the RVFD which is disagreeable to the Township Supervisors. I would like to know specifically what the disagreement is about.

Anonymous said...

The Fire Dept is money hungry..they are attempting to have a tax levee against the tax payers such as those did in the Osceola Fire Dept. It seems that Roulette Firemen have been contacting Osceola and making plans such as they did a few years ago. They run couple dozen calls and want a ton of money and brand spanken new trucks every couple years.....small community=small tax base....everyone needs to look at the ENTIRE PICTURE, not your bank accounts....

Anonymous said...

3 mils-50 dollars, Fire insurance when there is no fire department 400 dollars, all you nay sayers talk about common sense ^ your looking it square in the face......The fire department isnt looking to be like Osceola as a matter of fact they have what they need to be in operation minus man power which is apparently a problem everywhere but how many new township trucks do we have to see driving around plowing black top or only putting anti skid down at intersections and leaving the road unplowed, or the nice equipment trailer or the almost new roller sitting in the township building hmm that seems like and you folks complain about paying a little to volunteers when you have some employees who head almost every position in the township who gets a paycheck for it all.....

Anonymous said...

Really???

Sincerely,
The Roulette Township Supervisors???

or was this another statement wrote by Mr. Jon Huff (sitting behind the desk) thinking he can make someone (or some company) look bad so he is the hero again!!!!

Tired of it.... Lets just work together as a community. The fire dept needs you and you need the fire dept. Throw the gloves away and be real about the situation. There are better ways to work through this.

What is the alternate fire service? Township buying a fire truck and crewing it with the famous employees they have????

Will look foward to be at the meeting if the supervisors accept the invitation of the fire dept. having it at their place.

What will happen to the person who decided to send certified invitations to this meeitng(workshop know that it can't be called a meeting?)

Anonymous said...

Jim,

Do you know if this is a true and factual statement that the meeting is now open to the public?

Don't wanna get my hopes up if the public can't be there.

Thanks

Solomon's words for the wise said...

The update moving the meeting to the Bingo Hall is from an email from Roulette Township.

Anonymous said...

Well let's just stroll on over to mamby pamby land and get you guys some doses of common sense...you JACKWAGONS!
Grow up and work it out.
If my house burned down over a few words I'd be lookin' for somebody.

Jonathan Huff said...

Mr. Errick, I will take the time to respond to your question as you had the courtesy to not hide behind anonymity. I know that there is a legal problem with the wording. It was given to the lawyers to work out to a mutually beneficial end that did not result in a legal and binding contract with no validity due to the language it contained. This is not a simple rental agreement between a private landowner and their tenant. This is a legal document between a non-profit organization and a political subdivision of the state. Both parties would be foolish to not consult with their respective solicitors. The contract specifically spells out terms that include how and where the tax money that is given to the fire department can be expended. These terms are spelled out in detail in the PA code. The fire department insists upon listing authorized expenditures that are not part of that code. If state code does not permit it, the supervisors cannot endorse it. If they do, the contract is considered unlawful and without a severance clause, another item that the fire department insist on not including, the entire contract would be null and void. That would be beneficial to nobody, not the township, not the fire department and not the citizens of Roulette. All the supervisors want to do is work out a few minor remaining details in the contract, such as this, to settle the disagreement. That is why they set up the meeting with the fire department a week before the township meeting and the deadline that the fire department set. The majority of what you have read in the anonymous posts were either rumors or exaggerations of facts. The meeting at the fire hall has been advertised and is now officially a township special meeting so that all may attend and be involved if they choose to do so.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Austin area where the fire co. uses this type of mafia tactic.(pay or else!)It's plain and simple in todays world give me the money!The good old days are gone!

Frank Kaziska said...

Mr. Errick,
In reading Mr. Huffs reply, I am rather mystified concerning his statement that the Roulette Fire Dept has not spent the taxpayers money as required by the Second Class Township Code. What expenditures? First of all, I do not know of the fire department failing any audit, which would most certainly happen if we had violated the law. Secondly, why would someone in the capacity such as Mr. Huff even state such a thing. I thought he was a member of the fire department as well! So I have to wonder, what does he have to gain? The Supervisors may not always agree on what we do, but that is a two way street. As for the contract, the fire dept has asked several times what their issues were and did not receive any reply until the morning of March 3. Their original proposal was most definitely not in the best interest of the fire dept, that is why it was rejected in the first place. As for the contract not being "legal," the issues presented would not have made a contract illegal if they had not been included. These issues are designed to protect BOTH parties and have been considered. Not one of the issues presented before us would have given cause for this amount of strife. In fact, it could have been resolved months ago. Sorry, I just do not understand all this cloak and dagger stuff. Nobody wins with that kind of activity. Things will work out between the two, I am most sure of that. As for the other fire protection, shame on you for sticking your nose in, that is all I will say for now.

Anonymous said...

Well, well, well!!! Looks like the Roulette supervisors are pulling the same crap that the Hebron townsip supervisors pulled with Shinglehouse fire dept. Hebron twnsp residence lost their Fire & ambulance services from SVFD due to contracting with Coudersport which takes them more time to get where they need to be for a call because they are 25-45 min. before they get there. Meanwhile, Hebron residents are dying because of it. Fire insurance rates have increased because the fire dept is more miles away then it was before. Only the residents can take care of this by replacing the current supervisors with new ones that are going to listen to the residents' concerns either that or every time SVFD gets a call in Hebron township, gets on scene,and does what they need to do, you will receive a BILL for SERVICES RENDERED in the mail. Then you can take the bill to the supervisors and say "why did I get a bill?"
It's because there is NO contract for services from SVFD in Hebron township because they REFUSED to pay for your fire & ambulance protection. Thank you supervisors for keeping us "SAFE"!!!!

Jonathan Huff said...

Mr. Kaziska,
I NEVER said, nor implied, that the expenditures that have been made by the fire department were unlawful, I said that the contract that the fire department presented includes language that would permit it and that is one of the things that the supervisors wanted to speak with the fire department about. That is one of the things that this meeting was to hopefully resolve prior to the deadline that you established.

David M. Errick said...

John,
Thank you for taking the time to explain this issue in more detail. Hopefully the public meeting on Monday will be productive and promote a resolution.

Jonathan Huff said...

Dave,
I think that is what we are all hoping for.

Boo Hoo said...

@11:19---

Your sheer ignorance to what is going on is just BLARING... First off do you even know why Hebron Twp went with Coudersport over Shinglehouse??? If anything they are getting better service from better trained firefighters who care about the citizens and don’t come in to twp mtg's demanding that they pay more then what can legally charged. 3 mills of the assessed value is what Code is... Look it up for yourself. Shinglehouse did the same thing to Sharon Twp. I saw in the Enterprise the other week that the FD will get 21,000 from Sharon and at the time of the article the Twp only had 27,000 in their account's my math skills tell me, that would leave 6,000 for road repairs, Vehicle Maint, ect. Seems to me that is Dbl, what they should pay at 3 mills. So as TAX PAYERS of these twp, you really need to educate yourselves as to what these Fire Dept. are trying to pull by strong arming the Twp's to pay up or we won’t cover you...