MILLERSBURG — The Millersburg City Council on Wednesday will invite public input to determine whether the growing city should form its own fire protection agency.
Currently, fire protection is handled through the Albany and Jefferson rural fire districts, both of which split their coverage between the north and south parts of the city.
"It's complicated," said Millersburg City Manger Steve Hasson. He explained how Albany covers everything south of Conser Road, while Jefferson covers everything on the north side.
"You have two qualities of service and varying response times," he said.
Hasson noted that the city has doubled in size over the past seven years, and is expected to do the same over the next five years.
"The city has been found," said Hasson. "We are evolving quickly. Emergency services and fire protection delivery are essential to a city's growth."
Another driving factor, said Hasson, is a potential bond issue for Jefferson fire, which, should it pass absent another plan, would lock Millersburg into a contract with Jefferson.
Hasson and the council have been talking for the past six months about the move, and after gathering pubic input they will make a decision, which Hasson said will not happen until July.
"We'll be deciding whether to divest ourselves of both fire districts," he said.
If that happens, Hasson said the council will need to address three issues: whether they will build a fire station; where the equipment will come from; and what level of coverage they will have.
The cost for such a plan, Hasson said, will be somewhere between $2.5 million and $4 million.
The most likely direction, Hasson said, would be to contract with Albany Fire to form a new district. To that end, Albany Fire Chief John Bradner said the plan on his side is only conceptual at this point.
"It all depends on the level of service they are looking for and how much they are willing to pay for," he said.
Jefferson Rural Fire District interim chief Kevin Hendricks said removing the 3.5-mile coverage area in Millersburg would mean a 25-percent drop in revenue for the district.
"It's concerning, because we've served that area for a long time," said Hendricks.
Hendricks also said he hopes the issue will go to a vote.
"We'll honor what the people want," he said.