Franklin Township residents and business owners will start paying extra for certain fire and emergency medical services starting in January.
Under the new policy, approved by the township's trustees last week, the township would charge a fee to property owners if:
The Kent Fire Department responds to more than three false alarms at a property in one calendar year.
The department responds to more than one report of unauthorized burning on a property in one calendar year.
The department makes more than five emergency medical service runs to one business or a housing complex with R-4 multi-family residential zoning in one calendar year.
The township now contracts with the Kent Fire Department for fire and emergency medical services, paying the city $1,156.50 every time the department makes an emergency run to the township.
Under the new proposal, the township would charge the full cost of the run to property owners for every unauthorized burning on the property after the first incident, and charge the full cost minus any insurance reimbursements for any medical service runs to commercial properties in excess of five.
The township would charge $300 for every false alarm after the third at one site, which is the maximum charge state law allows.
Franklin Township administrator Ken Penix said no Franklin Township residents voiced opposition to the new measure, which township officials hope will defray rising fire and emergency service costs.
One Twin Lakes-area business owner did ask if he would be responsible if the fire department used his driveway when responding to an emergency call at the lake. Penix said in that case, and similar cases, the business owner would not be responsible.
"That would be treated the same as if an accident occurred on a road in front of (the business)," Penix said.
The city of Kent billed Franklin Township for just under $439,000 for emergency services in 2011, up about $25,000 from the previous year and more than $87,000 when compared with 2009.
Penix said the rise in costs could be attributed to increased emergency medical calls from the township in recent years, but added that township officials did not consider charges for multiple medical calls to non-commercial properties because they did not want to penalize people for seeking help.
If the new policy fails to raise significant funds, the township does not now have a backup plan to decrease its costs if emergency calls rise or continue at the same rate in the future.
"Nobody has thought up any (other) ideas or ways," Penix said. "What we would do is consult with the city of Kent to (find a solution)."
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