By Amanda Amsel
At a recent Prairie Township budget hearing, the township’s fire chief discussed the status of the fire department’s budget.
When asked by residents if the current budget of the fire department would sustain, Fire Chief Chris Snyder said the current budget would only get them through for a few more years.
“Looking at long term budgeting, our current budget takes us through 2018,” Snyder said . “The last levy was in 2010, so we should be able to make that levy last eight years.”
However, Snyder said there is some flexibility there and the budget is evaluated every year. Snyder said he is very conservative with the fire department’s budget because he wants to make levies last as long as possible.
“The way I look at it, when we spend dollars at the fire department, it is the same as spending money out of my pocket,” he said. “Ask anyone at the fire department, if someone needs something, they have to prove that they need it and it is worth it.”
According to Trustee Steven Kennedy, the levy was projected to last eight to 10 years.
“Both the last fire chief and Chief Snyder need to be applauded for making this budget last so long,” Kennedy said. “We will for sure make it until 2018 and they should be applauded for taking such great care of taxpayer’s money.”
Residents also asked Snyder how the pay they give their full-time staff compares to other fire departments.
According to Snyder, they are in the upper half for payroll for full-time employees. In fact, Snyder said they use to never give pay raises to part-time employees and in the three years since he has been chief they changed that policy as well. Now part-time employees get raises annually.
The chief also briefly discussed the status of the fire department’s equipment. According to Snyder, the department would not need new fire trucks until 2021, something that is also helping them save.
“This is great because we can save money and put money in the bank,” Snyder said.
As a result of the sound finances of the fire department they have been able to offer a variety of services to township residents. A few of the services and activities they have been able to offer to the community for free or at a discounted cost includes the annual fish fry, the smoke detector program, CPR classes and the Summer Youth Reading Program.
“We believe it is important that we can give back to this community,” Snyder said, “We want our staff to get to know the community, not just meet them under unfortunate circumstances. We also want to show the community how thankful we are for their support.”
To learn more about the Prairie Township Fire Department’s 2017 budget, visit www.prairietownship.org.