Public safety is a concern for Buena Vista Charter Township leaders. Supervisor Doctor Christina Dillard says higher costs are one reason for looking at a combined police and fire department. The current Buena Vista budget for the fire department requires $184,000 from the general fund to cover expenses.
Dillard said a town hall Friday brought some good ideas. Some suggestions include a regional fire department and employees picking up some of the benefit costs. A model plan shown during the town hall meeting to get public input showed the combined department using 20 paid on call firefighters. Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Hoeppner said the department only has 12 on call firefighters now with a $10 an hour wage and is hard to find people interested in the job.
There were also questions about the possibility of higher fire insurance premiums for business and residential properties. There was a question about the ability of cross trained police officers to respond to fire calls when the department responds to some 15,000 calls for service each year.
One complaint at the meeting was the appearance, the township board was trying to rush it through, with little notice to the people. A special township board meeting scheduled for Monday to make a decision has been canceled to allow for more discussion.
WSGW News photos by Bill Hewitt