A dispute over unpaid bills has erupted between the two communities that comprised the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District.

Rosemary Barrett, secretary for the former fire district, said Jan. 12 the total amount of unpaid bills by Sagamore Hills is $109,500. She said of that total, $57,500 are for expenses from last May-June. She said Sagamore Hills also owes $2,200 in legal fees, which is part of the total.

The fire district disbanded Sept. 14. Prior to its closure, Northfield Center and Sagamore Hills townships had been billed by the fire district for district expenses.

Sagamore Hills Township Fiscal Officer Scott Gale said Jan. 9 he refuses "to pay any of these bills because we'd be paying for things we're not receiving. Until all of this is settled, we will hold."

Northfield Center Township Trustee Paul Buescher said Jan. 12 he is annoyed that Sagamore Hills officials have not paid their bills.

"I don't know what their motivation is," Buescher said. "Why haven't they paid these bills? I'm at a loss. I don't know what's going on with these people. We've received no form of communication from Sagamore Hills.

"It is for the day-to-day operations of the fire district -- salaries, maintenance, everything," Buescher said. "If they have concerns, why are they waiting if this goes back to last May? I don't know why this was allowed to go on like that."

Buescher said the next step is for Northfield Center Township to hear from Sagamore Hills Township officials.

"They have not communicated with us," Buescher said.

At the Jan. 9 Sagamore Hills Township trustees meeting, Gale said his township received invoices from the fire district for items like gasoline.

"Who is putting gasoline in vehicles when there are no vehicles" because the district is closed?" Gale said, adding other bills are for things like vehicular repairs, uniforms and ambulance runs.

Sagamore Hills Township Trustee Dave DePasquale said his township should not have any bills past Sept. 14 because that is when the fire district closed.

Gale added, "There is no way these bills should be showing up."

Barrett told the News Leader Jan. 16 the bills from after Sept. 14 include payroll, fire station supplies, gasoline, electricity and vehicular maintenance. She did not have a breakdown of the expenses incurred after Sept. 14 immedicately available.

Mike Lesko: 330-541-9432

mlesko@recordpub.com

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