By Martha Stoelting
NORTH WEBSTER — Through a technicality in parliamentary procedure and some last-minute negotiating, a new fire territory has been approved for Tippecanoe Township and the town of North Webster.
A joint meeting of the township board and the town council was held at the Tippecanoe Township Building, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 31.
Town Council President Lisa Stombeck called that meeting to order. Voting yes to form the territory were Strombeck, and council members David Waliczek and Dan Thystrup.
Subsequently, Township Board President Jim Smith called the township board meeting to order. Smith and Ed Clayton voted in favor. Township board member Jim Rhodes voted no against both the resolution and ordinance to form the fire territory.
Questions followed for clarification of what happened. The town and township agreed to a lower tax rate increase in the first and second years, which flipped the switch for Waliczek and Thystrup. The maximum advertised levy must remain the same. That was explained by Tippecanoe Township Trustee Chris Francis and Alyssa Schumker after a question by Clayton.
Former Township Trustee Tom Reiff asked if the “volunteer” department members were going to see an increase in their state-mandated pay. North Webster Fire Chief Jeremy Likens responded in the affirmative. Charlie Baker, a former volunteer, asked how many “volunteers” were currently with the department. Likens said, “ Twenty-six with two new members and two leaving. There is room for 30.”
The room was full with seating socially distanced. The turnout of about 40-50 appeared to be many of the same folks who have attended the other three hearings. Only a few of the visitors seemed upset by the board formation.