Section: News

Village Council assesses finances of fire station

The Village of Gambier Council held their monthly meeting last Monday at the Gambier Community Center. An extensive conversation took place regarding the Gambier fire station when Robert A. Oden, Jr. Professor of Biology Joan Slonczewski questioned the Council on the proposed allocation of Village funds to the College Township Fire Department.                              

The College Township Fire Department operates two stations in Knox County, which provide emergency medical and fire protection services to the Village of Gambier, Kenyon College, College Township and Monroe Township. In Gambier, property taxes from the Village pay for the fire station.       

There has been an ongoing question as to whether the station’s current funding will be enough to sustain it in future years, especially with the rapid increases in the expense of special technological equipment. According to the Council, the Gambier branch has made several inquiries for increased funding from the Village of about $50,000 yearly, but no formal request has been made.      

Because they have yet to receive something on paper, the Council has been reluctant to act on this query. “We need a specific request,” Council President Betsy Heer said. “Our hands are tied. It’s the township’s fire department.” Mayor of Gambier Kachen Kimmell agreed, saying that the Council lacked even “the very basics, [like] the budget.”

In addition, many people feel that further contributions from the Village would mean effectively paying double for residents, whose property taxes already go to maintaining the station. Heer noted that, while “Kenyon has the bulk of property, they don’t pay [property] taxes.”

The Council agreed that the College’s role in supplying volunteers is vital to the station’s continued well-being. “The department couldn’t run without the students. I mean, there’s just no question,” Kimmell said. Council member Liz Foreman concurred. “[Members of the department] are very pleased with the involvement of Kenyon students,” she said. “They’re incredibly talented and dedicated.”            

If the Council does receive a formal request for Village founding, proceedings will be shaped by the council’s decisions on the amount of coverage and what those contributions should go to.     

“If we give 50,000 to the fire department, there has to be some control of the money by the council,” Kimmell said. Until then, “nothing can be done.”   

The Council also tackled traffic complications that have resulted from the overhaul of Farr Hall and the temporary conversion of Gaskin Avenue into a one-way street. Village Administrator Suzanne Hopkins said that the night deputy at Farr Hall recommended a four-way stop be put in place on the intersection of Gatskin Avenue and E Brooklyn Street to prevent people from turning on south bound traffic. In response, the Council suspended the rules and passed an emergency ordinance that would enact this proposal. 

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