Village Budget Explained: Emergency Medical Services

From the Mayor’s Office:

This week’s third installment on the Fire Department will focus on Emergency Medical Service (EMS). The Village and your tax dollars have never directly provided EMS, EMS has always been a contracted service based upon competitive bidding.
Prior to 1978 the only EMS services available to the Village were provided by the two funeral homes in the village, Stroud Lawrence and Reed Nichols and consisted almost exclusively of transportation to a hospital. In 1978 the village up graded the EMS by contracting with C&A an EMS provider. The service provided by C&A and particularly the response times (time from when the 911 call is received until the ambulance arrives) were spotty and largely unsatisfactory. C&A lacked an established place of business and largely parked ambulances with the motors running in the metro parks waiting for a call. They served the area as far west as Orange so waiting times for an ambulance to show up could be long; 10 to 15 minutes was not uncommon. The village and surrounding communities searched throughout most of the 1980’s for other bidders to improve the service. These efforts were largely without success. By 1988 the Suburban Fire Department began training to offer an alternative bidder for the EMS with intent to bid on the contract in 1989. In the summer of 1988, and without warning, C&A declared bankruptcy on a Friday and ceased operations leaving the village and surrounding communities without EMS services. The following Monday, on an emergency basis, the Suburban Fire Department began to provide EMS to the village and the other communities that it served. Since that time it has been the selected bidder and service provider of EMS services to Chagrin and the surrounding communities.
Today EMS is a 100% regionalized and a contracted service with all costs shared by the communities of; Chagrin Falls both village and township, Hunting Valley, South Russell, Moreland Hills and Bentleyville.
The quality of the EMS service we enjoy today is second to none. Today the EMS does much more than just provide emergency transport to the hospital. The majority of the personnel are certified Paramedics and can administer I.V. drugs and provide other advanced lifesaving procedures such as Trauma care, Cardiac monitoring and conversion to name a few. The remainder of the personnel are certified emergency medical technicians.  Today the EMS equipment consists of three advanced life support ambulances one of which is kept in reserve. These ambulances are equipped with advanced life support systems including: Cardiac monitoring, heart defibrillation, intravenous drug therapy and Trauma stabilization.
No matter how good the equipment is and how advanced the training may be, it is all of little value if the response is not timely when needed. When it comes to EMS minutes and seconds count and in fact that may be the difference in outcome. Today our average EMS response time within the village is 3 minutes and 30 seconds from the time the 911call is received to EMS is on the scene. This excellent response time is a factor of both our personnel’s high level of training and its physical location in the center of Chagrin Falls.
What does this advanced EMS service cost the village resident? In 2015 the total net cost was $174,000.00. This works out to a cost per resident of $42.43 per year or $0.81 cents per week. Compare your monthly cell phone or cable bill with the cost of this life saving service and I think you will agree this is a great value for all of us in the Village.
To recap the services and costs of the Village Fire department:
1. hazardous material protection& advanced rescue $3,500.00,

2. firefighting and prevention $300,000.00,

3. state of the art EMS protection $174,000.00

the grand total of $477,500.00 in 2015.

This equates to $116.00 per resident of annual cost or $2.23 per week, about the cost of a cup of coffee. .

Next week I will complete our safety forces review by explaining our Police department’s operations. Then onto the utilities and street departments.
Mayor Bill Tomko

Water Quality in Chagrin Falls

From the Mayor’s Office:

I have had some questions from residents regarding the safety of our drinking water and if lead was present in the water. First of all any lead in the water, almost without question, comes from sources within your own home. Lead is rarely, if ever, present in the water at the source and it is regularly check at our water plant.
Lead comes from solder used in copper pipe joints that were put in place prior to 1986. Water pipe solder has not contained lead since 1986. Also, in some of our older homes lead pipes themselves may have been used to connect the house to the underground water main.


Orthophosphate additives are added to the water before it leaves the plant to prevent the water passing through the pipes from leaching lead out of the joint solder or, if present, lead pipes. These Orthophosphate additives are corrosion inhibitors that chemically react with dissolved metals in the water to form a very thin metal-phosphate coating on the inside of the pipes and home plumbing. This film protects the pipes and fixtures from being dissolved into the drinking water.


The Village does test water from various homes in the system as required by the EPA. All of the homes are older, pre 1986 construction, and the results show that most, (90%), of the samples are at or below 2.0 ppb in lead content which is well below the action level. The recommended action level is 15 ppb. This lets us know that our corrosion control methods are working by direct sampling.


There is no need for individuals to test their water but they are welcome to do so if they have concerns. The Village uses an EPA certified lab BIOSOLUTIONS, LLC, 10180 Queens Way #6, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023 Phone: 440-708-2999 × Fax: 440-708-2988.

~Mayor William Tomko

Village Budget Explained: Regionalized Fire Department, Part II

From the Mayor’s Office:

Last week I started my informational posts about the village’s operations and the services offered by discussing the Fire Department and how the Hazardous Material protection and response has been regionalized. Before I go any further I need to explain how for the last 100 years the Fire Department was and is organized as a regional fire protection service. Judging from the questions I have been asked over the years, this might be the most misunderstood aspect of the village’s operations. Hopefully this post will provided you with a clearer understanding of the fire departments regional operation and cost sharing achieved by this arrangement.

The Village has benefited from regionalized fire protection since 1897 when the Fire Department was formed. Prior to 1934 the village provided fire protection to a wide area outside the municipal boundaries. In 1934 the Village decided not to provide these services outside of the Village. The Fire Department members at the time, led by Brick Harris, decided to form a non-profit corporation to provide fire services via contract to the communities in the area that wanted it. The Chagrin Falls Suburban Volunteers Fireman’s Association Incorporated (Suburban Department) was formed and started providing Fire Protection to area communities in the Valley. Today the Suburban Department provides fire protection services to: the Villages of Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Bentleyville, South Russell and Chagrin Falls Township. It is important to point out that your tax dollars do not directly support the Suburban Fire Department, fire protection agreements with these other communities do. So when you pass by the fire station you are really seeing two fire departments that are closely related but independent.

This shared facility arrangement has provided many cost savings to both departments. They currently cost share on: fire protective gear, insurance, radios and pagers, firefighting equipment, hose, fire training, and breathing apparatus among others. One large example is the Suburban Fire Department has paid for the station house you see today. This has saved the Village over $800,000.00 dollars. As a part of the shared facility agreement the Village has agreed to maintain the buildings along with providing a long term lease to allow the Suburban Fire Department to locate in the Village.

So what do your tax dollars provide? The only pieces of equipment that has been purchased solely with Chagrin Falls tax dollars is the Fire Prevention Car and the Ladder truck which is required for fighting fires in multiple story commercial structures. The reason for this is Chagrin Falls is the only community within the Suburban Fire department’s service area with extensive multi story commercial structures. All other apparatus and equipment costs are shared with the communities under contract with the Suburban Department. The Village currently employs a part time Fire Chief (split with the Suburban department), a full time Fire Marshal and 48 part time firefighters. These part time firefighters are only paid per call when they respond to a fire related incident in the Village. They receive $28.19 for their services whether the call lasts 15 min or 8 hours. I think that is a pretty good deal. It should be noted that the village receives a significant benefit from having a joint fire station located within the Village, reduced response times and seconds count.

The full time Fire Marshal inspects all commercial property within the Village. Three years ago regional agreements were put in place to share the costs of these services with the Villages of Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Chagrin Falls Township and Bentleyville. I think you will agree prevention is the best approach to firefighting. These efforts in the areas of fire prevention and fighting along with improved training and water main upgrades helped to improve our Fire insurance rating from a class 5 to a class 3. This saves you money every year on your home owners and commercial insurance policies.

Besides Firefighting and Fire Prevention, the Fire Department provides extensive services from the hazardous materials response discussed last week to: motor vehicle accidents, carbon monoxide in homes, natural gas leaks to residential smoke alarm assistance, blood pressure checks, residential home fire safety surveys, and the famous Haunted Fire house provided to our children at Halloween.

What is the cost of these services to the village? The budget for “Fire Protection” and other related services in 2015 was $300,000 dollars or an annual cost per resident $73.00; a little over $1.30 per week, less than the price of a single cup of coffee. Regionalization can save significant amounts of money; that is why we have been doing it for over 100 years.

My next installment will explain how the village residents receive and pay for our Emergency Medical Services.

Mayor Bill Tomko

Utilities Bills To Be Adjusted

From the Mayor’s Office:

An error has occurred in the application of the November 2015 utility rate increase to your January 2016 utility bill.

It was the previous council and administration’s intent that the rate increase be applied to the quarter billed in January 2016 and subsequent billings. A drafting error occurred in preparing the ordinance. The ordinance as passed by council and signed by Mayor Brick on November 24, 2015 actually only applied to water and sewer usage subsequent to January 1, 2016. Accordingly, all utility users were over charged for water and sewer usage billed with the current January 2016 bill.

To rectify this error, you will be issued a credit for the over charge on your next utility bill mailed to you in April 2016. Anyone who received a “Final Bill” prior to this date will be issued a check refunding the over payment. Due to the utility billing not being on a quarterly calendar basis you will not be charged the new rate until you receive the July 2016 bill. The April billing will be calculated using the old rate.

We are sorry for any confusion this error may have caused you. Your village government wishes to be completely transparent in all matters, and if we make a mistake it will be rectified in a timely manner.

~Mayor William Tomko