VALPARAISO | The city and Center Township have signed what is expected to be the final contract for the city to provide fire service to the entire township.
The contract was approved Thursday by the city's Board of Public Works and Safety with the township agreeing to pay $1.78 million for fire protection this year. That's almost double what the township paid in 2012 when the contract was for $932,000, plus another $46,000 to help pay for equipment.
Dave Hollenbeck, attorney for both the township and the city, said the two entities have been trying over the past 15 years or so to equalize the amount residents of the city and the township pay for fire department operations. Despite great strides in that regard, township residents still pay about half what city residents pay.
Hollenbeck said the 2013 contract brings the two much closer together, but there is still a gap that won't be eliminated until the proposed fire territory takes effect next year and the same rate of about 28 cents per $100 of assessed valuation is paid by everyone in the territory.
Creation of the fire territory means the city and the township no longer will have levies for fire protection. The 28 cents will include a two-cent levy for equipment replacement, and the rest will go for the general operation of the department, which will continue to be handled by the city.
Hollenbeck said the township still have about $200,000 in its cumulative fire fund, the fund that was used to pay for the third fire station on Tower Road. The money also might have to be turned over to the city as part of the steps involved in forming the territory, he said.
The ordinance creating the fire territory is before the council, which held the first of three public hearings on it Monday. It has to be approved by March 1 to take effect July 1, but the tax levy won't be effective until Jan. 1 and the first collection would be in June 2014.
The board also approved a contract with American Structurepoint to provide project management for the five-points roundabout construction, expected to begin in the spring at the intersection of North Calumet Avenue, Roosevelt Road and Vale Park Road.
American Structurepoint, which designed the roundabout, will receive $260,100 for overseeing the work. Ninety percent of that will be covered by federal funds, and the rest will be paid by the city's Redevelopment Commission, which also is paying the local share of the roundabout. Bids will be opened March 6.