Union Township wants more time to pay fire company

mdawson@centredaily.comJune 21, 2013 

Union Township does not have the cash to pay Citizen’s Hook and Ladder fire company $43,624 after losing a lawsuit, and the township has asked a county judge for more time to make good on the debt.

Township officials are looking into a loan to pay the Milesburg fire company, township lawyer William Tressler wrote in a court motion this week.

The fire company sued Union Township in 2010 to recover funding that was not paid according an intermunicipal agreement that also included Boggs Township, Milesburg and Unionville. Union Township contributed the equivalent of 1 mill of real estate taxes from 2010 to 2012, while the other municipalities contributed a higher rate according to the agreement.

Judge Pamela Ruest sided with the fire company in May 2012, saying that the oversight committee that managed the fire company had the authority to set the funding level. She gave the township 30 days to pay the debt.

The township then appealed to a higher court, which was a move that put the payment on hold. In April, the Commonwealth Court upheld Ruest’s decision.

In a separate court request this week, fire company lawyer David Engle asked for a meeting with the judge. Engle said Thursday the fire company will seek interest on the $43,624 from May 8, 2012, plus 30 days after the debt was due.

The township’s taxpayers will be responsible for paying the $43,624, and the cost of the lawsuit is more than $49,000 when adding in the $5,648 in lawyer fees to Tressler. The township indirectly will share some of the $2,266 fees billed by Engle because the township is one of the four municipalities that fund the fire company.

Township resident Janet McClelland is upset that she and her fellow residents will be the ones responsible for the bill.

“It’s just a terrible thing, and I don’t know what some of the people are going to do,” she said Thursday, referring to people on fixed incomes. “It should have never reached this point.

The next Union Township supervisors meeting is 7:30 p.m. July 1 at the office on Sycamore Lane, off South Eagle Valley Road (Alternate U.S. Route 220).

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.

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