Lake Twp: . Fire/EMS advisory committee being assembled

By: 
Larry Limpf

News Editor
news@presspublications.com

Residents of Lake Township are being asked to participate on a citizen advisory committee that will be focusing on the future of the township fire department and balancing departmental staffing with the community’s needs.
Fifteen positions on the Fire/EMS Advisory Committee will be open and the panel is expected to meet tentatively once or twice a month from late February through July.
Fire Chief Barrett Dorner said the committee’s recommendations will be compiled into a report that will be shared with the community.
Those interested in serving on the committee can register at laketwpfd.org. If more than 15 persons express interest the names will be drawn by lottery.
The registration form asks applicants to list whether they are a resident of the unincorporated area of the township or the villages of Millbury or Walbridge and if they are business owners in the township or villages.
The deadline to submit a form is Feb. 1.
The purpose for the formation of the committee as stated on the department website is: “To bring community members, elected officials, and their fire department leaders together for face-to-face discussions to address the critical issue of fire/EMS department staffing.”
Voters last November rejected a levy request for an additional 4.2 mills in property taxes for fire/EMS operations.
Had it passed, the levy would have generated about $1.2 million annually and paid for the hiring of full-time personnel in the department.
But the levy fell by a wide margin, about 64 percent against to 36 percent for it.
“I’m not sure if the voters want to spend that amount of money or if we didn’t get the message out clearly enough; or if the situation in their opinion doesn’t warrant additional funding,” Mark Hummer, police chief/administrator, said shortly after the levy vote. “One thing for sure is fire service has changed nationwide. Our demand for service isn’t going down and we thought this was the best course going forward; to go full-time.”
Richard Welling, a township trustees, opined after the levy loss that many residents were wary of adding more millage to their property taxes when they are facing rising property valuations as announced recently by the Wood County auditor’s office.
In addition, property owners in Lake Township are already funding four levies for fire and EMS:
-0.8-mill, continuing levy that generates about $133,268 annually for ambulance and EMS.
-2-mill, continuing levy that generates about $333,170 annually for fire and EMS.
-1-mill. continuing levy that generates about $254,467 for ambulance and EMS.
-1-mill, 5-year levy that generates about $236,658 for fire department operations.
Others, including former command officers of the fire department, have posted on Facebook and other sites that there was a lack of confidence in Chief Dorner’s leadership.
A letter to the editor from Chief Dorner about the formation of the advisory committee appears on the opinion page of this issue of The Press.

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