By Amanda Ensinger
A local township is looking toward the future and recently held a special meeting for strategic planning. During the Prairie Township meeting, staff and trustees discussed the 2023 budget.
Prairie Township Fire Chief Allen Scott kicked off the meeting by discussing items the department will need next year. This includes the replacement and reprogramming of radios, concrete and blacktop repairs at Station 241 and replacement of a grass fighter.
According to Scott, the current grass fighter is 26 years old and is hard to find parts for repairs. Scott added that replacements can cost around $110,000.
“We also need a staff vehicle replacement, and this could cost around $60,000,” Scott said. “I also would like to replace computers and cameras at Station 241. Computers cost around $10,000 annually and cameras approximately $8,500.”
The township also has applied for a Safer Grant. If awarded, it would create nine new full-time firefighter positions.
“The cost would be $725,000 per year for all nine new hires,” Allen said. “The grant will pay that for three years and we can apply for an extension up to three additional years. The grant covers salary and benefits.”
The township is also applying for a FEMA grant to replace Engine 243 at an approximate cost of $600,000.
During the meeting, Prairie Township Community Center Director Michael Pollack gave an update on future plans for the center. Among the items discussed was an outdoor pool and gymnasium.
“There has been an increase in attendance due to increased housing and not many outdoor pool options,” Pollack said. “We could rent out the pool and gym, increasing revenue. This pool could be placed outside of the current pool and the gym on the side of the building. The splash pad could be moved to the (Galloway) Sports Complex.”
Other updates Pollack would like to see in the coming years include Galloways Sports Complex lighting. Currently there is no lighting and the Galloway Baseball Club is willing to help with costs.
Other improvements discussed included resurfacing gym floor at a cost of up to $10,000, replacement of the eroding pool floor at a cost of $145,000, complete replacement of the walking track by 2024, replacement of fitness equipment, expansion of the childcare room, and a pay increases for full-time and part-time employees.
“We will need to increase pay to stay competitive,” Pollack said. “We would like to look into pay increases for camp, lifeguard, and fitness instructors. I would also like to look at filling vacant full-time positions.”
The Prairie Township Commercial Building and Zoning Department proposed remodeling work areas and commercial storage and would like to remodel the zoning office to allow for more storage. They also asked to purchase two new laptops at $1,800 each and a computer mount for a cost of up to $900.