Coolville Fire Department

Pictured is a Coolville Fire Department truck.

Note: This story appears in the Sunday, July 21 newspaper on Page A3.

Coolville Volunteer Fire Department is suing the Carthage Twp. trustees in a months-long dispute over whether the department is owed money for fire protection services provided the township in 2018.

The lawsuit, filed July 12, names Carthage Twp. trustees Robert Pullins, Ranson Callaway and Chris Nutter as defendants. The three are being sued only in their official capacity as trustees. At issue is $42,400 in 2017 taxes collected in 2018 on a Carthage Twp. fire levy.

For decades, the Coolville department had provided fire protection to the township — but Carthage Twp. formed its own fire department which began operations Jan. 1 of this year.

The lawsuit alleges that the trustees breached a contract signed Nov. 6, 2017 under which the Coolville department provided services in 2018. The contract states that the township would pay “the sum of all monies generated from fire protection levies in Carthage Township.” Services were provided, but the lawsuit claims the money is still owed.

The Messenger reported in January that the issue had become whether the trustees paid for the services in advance or owed the money after.

In January, Pullins told The Messenger that when the township signed the contract in 2017 for 2018 services, a check was written to pay for it. However, Coolville Fire Chief John Coen disagreed there was an advance payment for 2018.

The trustees decided to ask for a legal opinion from County Assistant Prosecutor Zach Saunders, who advised that the trustees did not owe the money.

Coolville Volunteer Fire Department is a nonprofit corporation and is not represented by the prosecutor’s office. Athens attorney Kenneth Ryan filed the lawsuit on behalf of the department.

The trustees have not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

srobb@athensmessenger.com; Twitter @SteveRmessenger

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