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Old 12-08-2018, 4:43 PM
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Default Carroll County Merger

The Carrollton village Fire Department and Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department are preparing to blend into one unit.

CARROLLTON Within a year, fire protection in central Carroll County is expected to be delivered by a single entity rather than in its present form with two agencies.

The pending merger involves the Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department and the Carrollton Fire Department, which is under the authority of the village. The Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department, despite its name, is a private entity and is independent of the county government.

“It is going to take a little bit of time,” county Commissioner Robert Wirkner said. “They are all going to have to cross train. The equipment is different. They are saying it is probably going to be June before they have things fully consolidated. The chief of Carrollton will remain as chief. The chief of Carroll County will be offered an officer’s position.”

Jack Swinehart is chief of the Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department while Shane Thomas is chief of the village department. Efforts to contact both were not successful.

The Carroll County Fire Department became a private entity in 2005. However, county commissioners have been funding the department in recent years with an annual $32,000 grant.

“That grant is not going to be sustainable forever,” Wirkner said.

The village Fire Department, on the other hand, receives funding from Village Council by way of two property tax levies. One is a 1.5-mill continuing levy and the other is a 1-mill property tax that runs for five years. The village department also has service-provider contracts with some townships in the Carrollton area.

“The village of Carrollton was operating its department with no problems,” attorney Clark Battista, Carrollton’s solicitor, said.

Carroll County commissioners recently approved a resolution authorizing Commissioner Jeffrey Ohler to explore options to provide financial support for the merger of the two fire departments. So far, Carrollton Village Council has not taken any action to facilitate the pending merger.

Carroll County Prosecutor Steve Barnett said he believes the Carroll County Fire Department was created in the 1950s as a part of the federal government’s civil defense program.

“By statute, the (county) commissioners can donate to a nonprofit entity that is engaged in promoting public safety,” Barnett said. “That is what they have been doing lately. It is a private entity. It is a private nonprofit that has been given a grant.”

When the fire departments merge, it should not effect paramedic service because that is expected to continue to be provided by EMT Ambulance. However, the fire protection service should be enhanced, according to Wirkner.

“It is going to be beneficial to the taxpayer because out of this will come a more robust fire company that will be better able to serve the community,” Wirkner said. “What it is going to do is decrease their response time.”
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Old 12-08-2018, 5:14 PM
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If it’s going to be mutually beneficial and helpful to the residents, then it’s time. Hopefully the personnel aren’t against it. That seems to be the biggest downfall, when nobody wants to lose their identity and everyone wants to keep their piece of the pie.
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