By Amanda Amsel
Franklin Township will close a firehouse if the proposed fire levy fails.
At a recent meeting, the trustees unanimously approved closing station 193 on Frank Road if the 5.89-mil levy doesn’t pass. The trustees have hinted that this could happen for several months, but the motion ensures it now will occur if the levy fails.
“If the levy doesn’t pass, the fire department is going to have to go down to the bare minimum,” said Franklin Township trustee Don Cook. “We can’t afford to have two fire stations without this levy.”
Department officials have said a minimum of 10 firefighters would be laid off if the levy fails, but that number could increase.
“We have lost several million from the local government fund and it is only going to get worse,” Cook said. “The state has taken away so much money from us and in order to get that money back, a levy is our only option.”
Township firefighters are able to stay with the department because of a SAFER Grant the department received in 2015 for $1.4 million. This grant allowed the department to hire 10 full-time staff members and paid for their salary and benefits until 2017. After 2017, the grant will be gone and township will not be able to afford these firefighters.
“Not only will we not be able to afford these firefighters, we also most likely won’t be able to afford additional staff we had prior to the SAFER Grant,” said Franklin Township Fire Chief Jim Welch. “Each year, we are going to lose more from the local government fund until we completely don’t get it at all.”
If the proposed five-year timed levy is approved, the fire department will receive $850,000 a year and residents will pay approximately $120 extra a year in property taxes per $100,000 home. The fire department has said if the levy passes, they do not plan on hiring additional staff and will just keep the staff they currently have. They also said they still plan to live within their means and simply need the money to be able to provide their current service.
The fire department association plans to kick-off an education campaign in the coming weeks to stress the importance of a levy with township residents.